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The IWP Internship Experience: Caden O’Neal

Caden O'NealMy name is Caden O’Neal, and I am an honors undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America (CUA), pursuing two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy and Political Science, with joint concentrations in Peace Strategy and International Affairs.

Over the course of spring 2022, I participated in the hybrid National Security and International Affairs Internship in Washington, D.C. at the Institute of World Politics (IWP).  As an intern, I served as a research assistant to Prof. Albert Santoli – Founder and President of Asia America Initiative (AAI) – and I contributed to the research of Ms. Annie Lansing, a doctoral candidate studying at IWP.

I truly believe that a great mentor knows how to bring out the best in their students and how to inspire them to achieve success beyond what the interns envisioned themselves capable of achieving.  For me, Prof. Santoli is one of those great mentors.  He brings a very serious determination to the classroom, but he also has a bright sense of humor and a cheerful disposition that puts everyone at ease.  Prof. Santoli genuinely cares for each and every one of his interns, and he is more than willing to help and assist his interns when, and if, the need arises.

Under Prof. Santoli’s supervision, my guided research embraced the complexity of integral human development and aimed to employ a cross-disciplinary approach to sustainable development and peace strategy – innovating thoughtful and enduring solutions to poverty, war, disease, and systematic oppression – in order to effectuate positive, just peace in vulnerable countries throughout the world, especially in South Asia.

In the process of this research, I was tasked with composing memos, writing papers, and presenting on China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) – specifically assessing China’s bilateral and multilateral Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with countries participating in China’s grand BRI economic strategy.  As a highlight, Prof. Santoli instructed me on how to develop U.S. national security threat assessments that focused on the myriad political and economic flashpoints of U.S.-China competition over spheres of influence and international power.

Additionally, every intern is strongly encouraged to attend IWP’s career advising, networking, and social opportunities to meet and learn from professionals in our fields of career interests – all of which are coordinated by Mr. Mason Taylor, the Operations Manager and Internship Director.  For me and my teammates, Mr. Taylor served as an incredible resource and ally as we learned to navigate these opportunities.  His commitment to the success of the internship team is truly unparalleled, and he continuously empowers each of us to take the next “right” steps in the direction of our goals.  Out of the hundred people he meets in a day, Mr. Taylor is truly interested in all one hundred.  Like Mr. Taylor, every faculty, staff, and student at IWP is exceptionally personable, welcoming, and willing to share their experiences in order to help you grow professionally.  As Mr. Taylor himself puts in, “Once you become part of the IWP family, you are always part of the IWP family.”

In conclusion, I enthusiastically recommend this internship program for undergraduate students seeking to capitalize on the opportunities to study in Washington, D.C., establish strong networks, develop marketable skills, and expose themselves to invaluable experiences in their fields of career interests.  I make this recommendation with the highest confidence.

Caden O’Neal
Intern, Spring 2022
The Institute of World Politics

Learn more about the IWP internship program