As a senior studying politics and Latin at Hillsdale College, I came to D.C. seeking an internship that would broaden and deepen my understanding of international relations. While working at The Institute of World Politics as a presidential intern over the past semester, I experienced that and more.
I applied to IWP as part of the Washington-Hillsdale Intern Program (WHIP), through which Hillsdale students spend a semester studying in the nation’s capital. For many students, this provides the first taste of the “real world” outside the ivory tower of the university. For me, however, it revealed the overlap between the two. Working at The Institute of World Politics gave me insight not only into the world of foreign policy, but also into the inner workings of a graduate school. I am now more eager than ever to pursue graduate studies and an eventual career teaching politics.
At IWP, I found a fantastic community of fellow interns, mentors, students, and professors. In addition to my rewarding time working with my direct supervisors, Dr. James Anderson, and his incomparable assistant, Ms. Gloria Shunda, I also enjoyed my conversations with IWP’s intern coordinator, Mason Taylor, who had a story and a smile for everyone walking through the door. I loved overhearing discussions throughout the office on the merits and shortcomings of various politicians’ recent speeches or the policy ramifications of the newest DoD report. During faculty lecture lunches, interns had the opportunity to hear from experts on crucial foreign policy topics and receive valuable career advice. Auditing an IWP course provided a unique glimpse into graduate-level work and the expertise of IWP’s professors. Additionally, group trips like the one to the Spy Museum—where teams of interns and students competed against one another in a scavenger hunt through layers of security clearance, propaganda, and misdirection—provided a fantastic opportunity to meet other interns and explore new parts of the city.
One of the most adrenaline-filled but rewarding experiences was Exercise Dragon Teeth, a strategy exercise in international tensions and diplomacy. This exercise offered ample opportunity to understand the pressure undergone by policymakers during times of crisis. Conducting remote meetings with other interns to discuss the ideal response to the press after a fictitious attack helped me to grasp the gravity of such a situation in a way that no description or lecture could.
My internship also provided a diverse range of projects, allowing me to see multiple facets to the work of a graduate school. In addition to my work on research, project proposals, trip preparation, and editing, I assisted the events team with significant events such as commencement and Dr. Anderson’s presidential inauguration at the 30th (+1!) Anniversary Gala. Whether I worked with a team of fellow interns or on my own, my assigned tasks were dynamic, engaging, and fulfilling.
I have known far too many young professionals who have accepted subpar internships simply to have a D.C. experience. Such students often spend their time merely entering data into spreadsheets or running coffee around the office. Although these are crucial to the efficient function of the workplace, an internship that consists of such tasks exclusively leaves interns unfulfilled and chafing at the bit. At IWP, however, I found that the projects assigned by your supervisor truly utilize your skills and capabilities. You are viewed as an addition to the team rather than an easily replaceable tool. IWP regards its interns as future world-changers whose growth ought to be intentionally fostered and guided towards productive ends, and it behaves accordingly.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time interning at The Institute of World Politics and am thrilled that I will continue remote work back on Hillsdale’s campus through the spring semester.