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The IWP Internship Experience: Cole Penz

An internship with The Institute of World Politics first caught my attention because of the school’s focus on equipping students with the practical skills necessary in the conduct of statecraft. I was also drawn in by the school’s emphasis on learning how America’s moral traditions impact contemporary national security. I had high expectations entering this internship, yet my experience still surpassed them.

I was a research assistant for Dr. John Lenczowski, IWP’s founder and president. My primary task was to research Chinese influence operations in the United States. Through this assignment, I not only gained an understanding of those operations but also how American agencies are actively countering them. Throughout the entire semester, Dr. Lenczowski and I held regular meetings to discuss my research. He always had invaluable insights that helped me contextualize the specific operations I was analyzing and broader trends in Sino-American relations. His extensive knowledge and genuine passion for his work were immediately recognizable. I felt honored to work with Dr. Lenczowski.

I also had the opportunity to work with Mr. Derrick Dortch, IWP’s director of career services. My research piqued my interest in potentially pursuing a counterintelligence career. Mr. Dortch had a plethora of resources and contacts, which helped me lay out a career plan for myself in that field. Additionally, attending IWP alumni mentoring events allowed me to speak to professionals in my field of interest.

Through my internship at IWP, I improved my research abilities and better defined my career goals. IWP is a phenomenal organization full of people ready and willing to teach and assist. I feel fortunate to have interned here.

Learn more about the internship program