The IWP Internship Experience: Austin Worth
I interned for the Institute of World Politics during its Fall semester in 2009. Having recently completed my undergraduate degree in International Relations and German at Tufts University, I commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Due to an unusually long wait for basic officer school, I was fortunate to be able to participate in the IWP internship program and found that it far exceeded all my expectations.
I have an interest in international affairs, conflict resolution and diplomacy, all of which greatly affect those serving in the military, and I couldn't have chosen a better institution for learning and experience these fields. The quality of expertise at the school is phenomenal, with many professors having written, or been colleagues of those who wrote, most of the texts I read throughout school. Despite the many demands on their time, I was included by the faculty and staff as a student and family member of IWP. The responsibilities of an intern are not insignificant - one minute you may receive and welcome ambassadors at the door and the next field a telephone call from the chairman of the board - but the people at IWP were earnest in showing their appreciation for our work and took a genuine interest in our enrichment and overall well-being while in D.C.
Something I appreciated most about the internship was the ready access IWP gave me, as a simple intern, to great American heroes and people who had become experts and accomplished in their lives the things I was just learning about - people like returning Special Forces who had first hand experience in Afghanistan, or members of Reagan's National Security Council who had a direct hand in the successful conclusion of the Cold War. I found invaluable the opportunities I had to build a relationship with the Institute, as well as with the intellectual community in Washington, all of whom actively take a role in shaping our futures as a nation. But as serious and professional as a graduate school environment can be, I will leave you with my most memorable experience - one which I'm sure I share with every intern who has never used a multi-line phone system before...
As mentioned before, interns are responsible for handling incoming telephone calls to the school. These can be anyone from a student worried about registration, to a telemarketer, to members of the board or VIPs from the Hill or visiting diplomats. To the uninitiated, there is an incomprehensible procedure for fielding multiple calls at once, transferring lines, and sending callers to voicemail. Usually this involves putting them on hold, pushing a sequence of buttons and then hanging up. Needless to say, one morning I received a call from a "prominent" member of the board of directors, and in my efforts to transfer him to voicemail, I managed to hang up on him instead. Vowing not to do that ever again, I found duties requiring my attention away from the phones for the rest of that day...
Fortunately, I can now say that I know a multi-line phone system as well as anyone, and have successfully transferred that gentleman's calls many times. Small though it might be, every skill I gained while interning for IWP is valuable, and I know that this experience will stand me in good stead for whatever endeavors I make in my future career.
-Austin Worth, IWP Intern, Fall 2009
Pictured to the left: John Lenczowski, Austin Worth, Chris Fulford