With the ever-growing number of job candidates, and the decline in the value of a bachelor’s degree, internships have secured their place among today’s “to do list” of many college undergraduates. While many of them hope to gain invaluable experience working in an office, as well as attempt to augment their resumes, today’s young Americans are drawn to the internship like never before. The socio-political field is amidst the most competitive of internships because of the 21st century’s lust for individual networking. Seeking to harness a portion of this youthful energy, The Institute of World Politics invites a number of college-aged people to help them follow their dreams.
This summer, The Institute of World Politics hosted 17 college undergraduates through its annual summer intern program. Still perplexed by the political swamp that is Washington, D.C. and its endless torrent of roundabouts, the interns descended on our national capital looking to set the world afire. There were students from a myriad of backgrounds, and homes ranging from California, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan, and Illinois, to name a few. There were even two international students among those who were selected to represent IWP. Between networking events, museum tours, and many intriguing lectures, IWP’s interns found themselves feasting at a table of knowledge all summer long.
Colin Parks, the director of our internship program, welcomed IWP’s gifted guests on June 2nd by presenting an enriching syllabus of things “to do.” Mr. Parks’ plan was as such: usher in this group of young scholars and totally immerse them in D.C. living. His modus operandi was an amalgam of scheduled meetings ranging from think-tank discourses to a Friday night at a Washington Nationals game, a full spectrum introduction to D.C. that seamlessly embraced both work and, on occasion, play. What resulted from Mr. Parks’ blueprint was a summer that will be long-remembered by all participating interns.
One requirement IWP’s interns faced was a required research project to be formally presented on the last day of the internship. The students carefully selected topics, usually based on their area of study, and began grappling with the prodigious amount of research needed to stage a noteworthy presentation within this summer’s highly competitive group. The incipient foreign affairs orators worked and studied in concordance with a preselected IWP faculty member, looking to their mentors for preparation advice, and perhaps, an alternate point of view. The result was a galvanizing series of knowledgeable presentations that empirically illustrated the interns’ hard work.
Perhaps the most anticipated string of events was IWP’s Intern Debate Series, which pitted three preselected teams of interns against each other in Lincoln-Douglas style discussion. As each debate neared, IWP’s interns prepared with the vigor of congressional researchers. Topics discussed ranged from the morality of U.S. drone strikes to the potency of China, all of which were introduced in the climate of competitive friendliness. Following a weekly schedule, two teams would jockey in a battle of wits for bragging rights. And jockey they did.
What is more, several times a week, the interns were graced with guest speakers, coming in from IWP’s extensive list of friends. Each presentation kept the group of young minds informed with insider knowledge and career advice.
The summer concluded with the sober reality that all of the young interns must part ways as they prepare for the upcoming school year. The summer left us with invaluable experience, many fresh concepts to be pondered on the international stage, and friendships sure to last a life time. The IWP summer internship program deserves praise of world-class proportions, and unquestionably will continue to blossom – a windfall for any student of politics looking to accept an internship in our nation’s capital. The internship has been a spectacularly enriching experience, not quickly forgotten.
IWP Intern, Summer 2012