The Benefit of Internships

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By Zan Mir, BA in International Affairs, 2017

The George Washington University makes a strong effort to advertise its location in the heart of Washington, DC, and it does so for good reason. GW’s prime location provides innumerable benefits to students. In my view, one of the most valuable benefits of going to a school like GW is the ability to intern during the academic year. The convenience the school’s location provides coupled with the superior resources of the GW Center for Career Services enables a large amount of students to gain professional experiences alongside attending classes.

During my time in college, I have been largely undecided about my career choices. I absolutely love the classes I take as an international affair major and as an economics double major. My favorite classes so far have been Development Politics, Comparative Politics of South Asia, International Trade, and Global Energy Security. I could not be happier with my choice to major in those two subjects. However, I do not necessarily want to pursue a career in diplomacy or in the poltical arena.  I believe classroom instruction is not enough for someone to find their passion and choose a professional direction to head towards. That requires hands-on professional experiences in different settings. In an effort to find my professional direction, I have worked and interned in a few places in my three years here at GW so far.

First, as a sophomore, I opted to be a research assistant in the Department of Political Science where I helped a former professor of mine with research on electoral alliances between political parties in India. It was a great overall experience and I am thankful for start it has given me. However, from that experience, I learned that a career in academia was not for me. The summer following sophomore year I interned at a large law firm in Washington DC that specializes in criminal defense. Through the internship, I was exposed to legal work and had the amazing opportunity to shadow top-ranked defense attorneys in court. It was nice experience, however, I figured out that a career in law was probably not for me either after the legal internship.

Last semester, the fall of my junior year, I had the pleasure of interning at the Hudson Institute’s South Asia Center.  At that policy-oriented think tank, I worked as a research assistant for Former Ambassador Husain Haqqani and noted author Aparna Pande. I did research on political and economic policy issues in the broader region of South Asia as well as research on the roller-coaster relationship between those two countries. Apart from working with two famous authors and well-regarded scholars, I had the privilege of attending formal and informal briefing on a variety of issues. While I loved working at Hudson, I do not see myself working in the think tank world down the road.

So at the conclusion of this semester, I still have not found a profession. You might think all these internships have been of no avail.  In fact, I would argue the opposite. My internship experiences have helped me grow tremendously. Together, they have allowed me to find out so much about different professional fields and also learn more about myself in the process.  As a junior, there’s definitely an impetus to find a professional direction on my end. However, I don’t worry too much about it because I know I can always keep searching and exploring given the abundant opportunities to intern while going to school at GW. Next up: Consulting!

Note: Get started on your Internship journey with the February 2nd workshop on Landing a Successful InternshipRSVP in GWork!

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