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The IWP Internship Experience: Blake Ammerlaan

After graduating during the pandemic, I was looking for a particular type of internship. I wanted one that would allow me to have the kinds of experiences in which I had not been able to participate during lockdown as well as help guide my steps going forward. My position as a research assistant and intern as part of 2022’s Spring Cohort gave me just that opportunity.

Like many people at the end of their tenure as undergrads, one of the most major questions I had was “Should I go to grad school, and, if I do, when should I go?” The ability to audit classes while an intern at IWP presented the perfect way to answer this question. While there, I was able to audit two classes: National Security Policy Process taught by Prof. Tsagronis and Cyber Strategy Development taught by Prof. Billingsley. I got to learn from experts in their respective fields and speak on fascinating topics. Furthermore, I got the self-knowledge
of my preparedness for the increased level of academic rigor of grad school without making a potentially expensive mistake. Armed with this experience, I feel able to make a much more informed decision on graduate school down the line.

Another rewarding aspect of my internship experience was the ability to produce original research with a fellow intern under the guidance of Prof. Billingsley that we hope to publish. This gave me the ability to hone skills critical to furthering a career in academia. I got the chance to
develop my administrative skills while working at the front desk and helping in the office. Working with Mason Taylor, Joshua Kiggins, and Sade Nixon made my front desk shifts one of the highlights of my week.

Lastly, the internship gave me access to the IWP community. The career advisor, Derrick Dortch in particular, was a great resource providing me with advice and connecting me with further resources and opportunities. The ability to meet faculty and students at varying stages of their careers across many fields was a great way to expand my network as well as hear inside perspectives on many different career paths that I had wondered about. The lecture lunches were a key part of this giving me the ability to meet and learn from many distinguished professionals.

In sum, my time as an IWP intern has not only given me sound experiences and skills to advance me in my career but has also been quite an enjoyable one.

Blake Ammerlaan
Spring 2022

Learn more about the internship program