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The IWP Internship Experience: Natalie Merucci

Natalie Merucci 2The experience I received during The Institute of World Politics internship was one that not only went above and beyond my expectations, but also supported my progress toward reaching my full potential as both a professional and an individual.

Each day, my work at IWP presented a different situation, and therefore a new opportunity. At first, I saw this as daunting, but that quickly changed. The internship allowed me and other students in the program to experience our potential future work environment by conducting counterterrorism research. We conducted this work in a team environment, which showed me how to thrive on what some would call the “craziness” of intelligence work. I learned to fully embrace such an environment, to put forth my best effort in the face of challenges, and to collaborate with those around me.

Members of the IWP community were constantly eager to provide their support on a genuine level that I have honestly never experienced before. Interns, both within my research group, as well as the other intern groups, seized opportunities to learn more about me, my goals, and my personal interests. The connections made at this internship will expand beyond my professional network into my personal circle of friends. Additionally, each staff member that I encountered went out of their way to introduce themselves to me, and make sure I felt at home and comfortable during the various work shifts throughout the week.

These work shifts showed me another side of professional life. As an intern, I learned how to work alongside a group of people to keep an organization running. Through working the more “stereotypical intern tasks” at the front desk, and in the events and communications office, coined “the Skybox,” I learned lessons that I would not have expected to receive in such situations. First and foremost, the Skybox taught me that any situation can be a learning experience — whether it appears positive or negative at first, it can always provide insight. “Manning the phones,” as I liked to describe it, instilled the importance of flexibility, communication, and preparation. Furthermore, I learned the importance of effective communication, and how small actions can truly go a long way, for good or for ill.

We also were given opportunities to be true tourists in the city during the internship. We took what I like to call “intern field trips” to the Capitol Building, Voice of America, The Spy Museum, and other locations as well. Not only did we get to learn about the country that we all hope to support through our careers on these trips, but it also showed us that we were not seen as “just interns” by the organization, but that we were truly appreciated.

I never expected to have an internship where I felt as challenged, but yet supported and genuinely appreciated at the same time.

-Natalie Merucci, Intern Summer 2017