I just finished up the best summer I’ve had since I was twelve (and I spent that one riding my bike everyday―not bad at all). This summer I was in Washington, DC doing defense research at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I was fortunate to get this internship that apparently 800 other applicants were vying for, and I was even more fortunate to be able to accept it. CSIS internships, like most DC internships, are unpaid. My summers are traditionally spent working and saving money but I knew that this summer, the last one before I graduate, was my opportunity to get some real work experience in Washington, DC. I applied for the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grant to help support me. I’m so grateful that I was among the recipients of the grant. Thanks to the Wellman Hill Grant, I gladly took the CSIS internship.
CSIS is one of the most reputable think tanks. It prides itself in being nonpartisan and its experts are some of the top political minds. Needless to say, I was excited to be among such esteemed company. My boss was Kathleen Hicks, a defense strategist who worked her way up in the Pentagon before joining CSIS to focus on her research. This summer, I assisted her on several projects. I compiled research on defense transformation and RMA, basically where modern defense policy started and trying to understand where it’s going. I also studied the inefficiencies in defense budgeting, AFRICOM and peacekeeping policy, and post-surge Iraq. My work contributed to congressional testimony that I was able to attend. Since CSIS recognizes that being an unpaid intern can be hard, they try to give us as many perks as possible. They have a leadership series set up for the summer interns where at least once a week we would have luncheons where we would be instructed by the young professionals, senior fellows and experts on a range of issues, from applying to graduate schools to the terrorist organizations in South East Asia. This program is called AILA, or Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy. That’s the same Dr. Inamori after whom the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence was named here at Case Western. Similarly, the interns are encouraged to attend as many events as possible, even when they aren’t necessarily in our field of research. The speakers were incredible. I was at a discussion among Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Ignatius and Bob Schieffer. The President and Prime Minister of Kosovo gave a briefing to CSIS on their government’s development. It was really incredible to hear authors explaining their works that I read in classes here at Case Western.
I gained so much from this summer. An amazing internship, real work experience, new friends, and last but not least, three months in Washington, DC. I can’t wait to go back and continue my work, studying defense and international security. These experiences just would not have been possible without the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Grant.