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The IWP Internship Experience – Alex Schwar

Alex Schwar Headshot

This spring, I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a research and media intern for The Institute of World Politics while participating in my university’s Washington semester program. For my research responsibilities, I collaborated with Dr. Christopher C. Harmon on a conference about Edward Lansdale, focusing on his counterinsurgency work in the Philippines as an advisor to the Filipino government. As a media intern, I worked on the IWP podcast and helped run audio and visual equipment at multiple IWP events.

Working with Dr. Harmon was my first experience working independently in a professional setting. I learned to utilize my time management and problem-solving skills effectively. Part of my research involved searching for potential speakers by scouring books for individuals who had worked with Lansdale and then conducting further research on these individuals online. Although I encountered dead ends at times, I learned when to broaden my search using different methods and when to pivot to researching another person.

During my time with the media team, I was responsible for writing blog posts and assisting in the creation of marketing materials for the IWP podcast. Additionally, I contributed to the design of two online courses focusing on the MENA and Indo-Pacific regions. Beyond digital work, I also had the opportunity to operate audio and video equipment at a day-long symposium at the Reston campus. The skills I acquired during my tenure with the media team spanned from digital design and marketing to audio editing, videography, and the utilization of AI.

Alex Schwar at ISC Conference
Alex Schwar at the Intelligence Studies Consortium Conference hosted by IWP

As part of my internship, I had the opportunity to enroll in a class at IWP. I chose Espionage (IWP 668) with Professor John Sano, as it provided me with the chance to explore a subject not available in my undergraduate coursework. Despite its challenges, the class has deepened my understanding of espionage from the perspectives of intelligence officers and policymakers. It shed light on various factors within the intelligence community that I had not previously considered, providing valuable insights.

My internship experience at IWP was truly rewarding, and I acquired numerous skills that will prove beneficial in my future endeavors. Moreover, I had the opportunity to expand my network by connecting with fellow students, professors, and IWP alumni.

Alex Schwar
IWP Intern, Spring 2024
From James Madison University

Learn More About IWP Internships

Interns Alex Schwar and Elie Imani setting up for ISC Conference at Reston Campus
Interns Alex Schwar and Elie Imani setting up for the Intelligence Studies Consortium Conference at the Reston Campus