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The IWP Internship Experience: Elizabeth Whatcott

I came to The Institute of World Politics unsure of what I wanted. Even though I was an International Relations major in my last semester of college, I was still deciding which of my many interests I would turn into a career. Before obtaining my internship at IWP, I had heard about the exciting new realm of cyber-intelligence, and I wanted to learn more about this field. I hoped that my internship at The Institute of World Politics would help me narrow my career focus, learn more about cyber-intelligence, and gain some valuable skills and insights along the way. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

IWP offers its interns all the practical benefits of a Washington D.C. internship, plus so much more. You will often hear people call the community here the “IWP family,” and they mean it. IWP is made up of fantastic people who not only have impressive resumes but also express genuine interest in the success of both their students and interns.

From the get-go, everyone at IWP was communicative and eager to help the new interns like myself. I had the opportunity to work with Captain Dean Lane, the Vice President of the Cyber Intelligence Initiative at IWP, on his book project about cyber-intelligence. Not only did I learn more about cyber capabilities from my research, but I also got to attend interesting cyber-related conferences both on and off the IWP campus. Captain Lane is an engaging and helpful mentor, and I count my research experience with him as one of the highlights of my internship.

IWP offers its interns the full scope of resources, courses, and events available to its full-time students. For example, I got to participate in the Fall 2019 session of the Baltic Storm 2025 Crisis Simulation and War Game with other IWP students and alumni. This entertaining and high-intensity simulation gave me a peek into the world of an intelligence analyst as I worked with my team to piece together the reports we received into a coherent narrative. Later in the simulation, my team used that intelligence in our war game as we maneuvered to obtain our strategic objectives. Baltic Storm taught me about national security careers and objectives while also connecting me with other students and alumni, a valuable experience I must thank IWP for.

Interns at IWP have the opportunity to attend class lectures, and I enjoyed participating in the Intelligence Collection course taught by Dr. David Thomas (a former DIA analyst) and Professor Gary Blankenship (a former CIA clandestine service officer). The real strength of IWP is its faculty and network of national security professionals who can share their knowledge, which is drawn from their own experience in the field. It is one thing learning about the work of human collection from a textbook or a museum; it is another to hear a former CIA officer talk about his own experiences recruiting and working with agents in foreign countries.

I could go on about my IWP experience; I have not even touched on the helpful career services personnel, the fascinating lecturers that came to speak on a number of different topics related to national security and international affairs, the networking opportunities provided on a regular basis, and the opportunity to learn about how a graduate school functions by helping its events staff and operations manager. Thanks to all these experiences, I am completing my internship more confident about my career path, better equipped to understand the world, and enriched from the personal connections I have made at IWP.

Learn more about IWP internships