My first time visiting IWP, I remarked at how small it looked from the outside. I entered on the first day as bewildered and anxious as the other interns in the room. I didn’t know at that time just how much I would love being in and working at this institution. The other interns surrounding me would become my best friends in D.C., and the building would feel like another home, albeit one that is a mansion and housed the KGB.
Each aspect of the internship was rewarding in a different way. The development shifts are spent doing work that is necessary for almost every organization out there, allowing you to hone skills that you will likely use in the future. You spend your time surrounded by others working on similar projects, and it’s easy to make fast friends. Working the front desk also helps you to improve your interpersonal skills and front desk supervisor Jon is quite the conversational partner.
Working under a professor naturally depends on whom you have been assigned to. I worked under best-selling author and Purple Heart veteran Prof. Albert Santoli, and his right hand man Schuyler Merritt. I spent the semester helping to build their Center for Culture and Freedom from the ground up: I conducted primary research, developed its social media and online presence, and connected with other similar organizations. Each day, I learned something new, and my work felt rewarding on both a professional and personal level.
The last section of the internship was, for me, the most fun. Getting the chance to listen to and participate in a graduate level class for free was an excellent opportunity. I was able to get an idea of how graduate classes function, what sorts of information is taught, and how it differs from undergraduate college. My class was Modern Intelligence and Military Warfare with former DIA senior analyst, Dr. David L. Thomas. Dr. Thomas kept us engaged each class with new anecdotes and knowledge and we ended the semester with a night out. The informative events that IWP offers are interesting and easy to attend. They encompass all sorts of issues and perspectives that are seen in the United States today. I also enjoyed events such as the open houses, social gatherings, and celebrations both on and off campus. Spending time with coworkers during your free time was a sure way to develop lasting connections.
As I write this in the Skybox on my last day, I’m reminded of how I came here on the first day. My plans for the future are different, my outlook on foreign policy has changed, and I have developed new relationships and skills that will be helpful in the years to come. I did not know much about the Institute before coming here, but now it is a contender for a graduate school to attend. Compared to some of my friends’ more rigid D.C. jobs, I feel incredibly lucky to have had the IWP internship experience and will surely be back to visit.