As a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame studying political science and global affairs, I knew I wanted a summer experience in international relations and security. I was not sure where to start, though, until I discovered IWP at my school’s spring career fair. The abundance of opportunities IWP afforded their interns (a one-on-one research mentorship and access to their career and alumni networking services, to name a few) plus the kindness and hospitality of their staff assured me that IWP was the perfect next step in my career path.
Throughout the summer, I worked with Professor Albert Santoli examining domestic and international “spoilers,” or potential threats, to peacebuilding processes and democracy. One spoiler we focused on was the dynamics of the international drug trade and its effects on society. What I enjoyed most about my research and weekly meetings with Professor Santoli was how exploratory and personalistic the work was. I learned about contemporary international topics that I had not encountered before. Professor Santoli always encouraged me to focus on the topics I considered most intriguing or useful to my interests and goals. I improved my research, analytical, writing, and communication skills, all while exploring subjects I found engaging and relevant. It was truly a win-win.
The networking aspect of the internship far exceeded my expectations. The lecture lunches and alumni career sessions allowed me to meet and learn from people working in job sectors that are of interest to me. My intern supervisor, Mason Taylor, was incredibly helpful and quick to communicate. Additionally, my meetings with the director of IWP’s career services have focused my career discernment process and allowed me to take concrete steps to gain future experiences and connections. I know more specifically which field of international service I want to go into (cultural diplomacy) and what steps I must take to get there.
The research skills I gained by working with Professor Santoli were beneficial, but the relationship I built with him and other IWP faculty and staff made this experience invaluable. The IWP internship has been an enlightening opportunity that I know will help kickstart my future career in international relations, peacebuilding, and diplomacy.
Mary Kate Godfrey