I spent the summer interning at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), an independent, non-partisan think tank in DC that conducts research on migration, immigration and demographic issues. MPI also publishes an online journal, the Migration Information Source, which provides up-to-date information on migration-related issues.
During my internship, I worked primarily with the Communications Team. Using social media, I helped disseminate new research the institution published. I also helped the Migration Information Source editor review and edit articles for publication. In some instances, this involved repurposing longer pieces to fit the required style and length requirements. At other times, this simply involved editing for style and substance. Finally, I helped research and co-author an article for the Migration Information Source about the intersection of migration and development policy in Canada, Europe and the United States.
I’ve always been interested in working at a think tank, and this internship was a perfect opportunity to learn how a public policy organization functions and how policy research is generated. Getting an inside view of the research process that goes into producing reports and briefings at a think tank made me realize that I really enjoyed the think tank environment and the process that goes into producing reports and briefings. In addition, all staff members at MPI, including senior staff, were more than willing invest in the interns, providing career advice and helping us develop professional contacts that will be invaluable assets in life after the LBJ School.
I would advise first-years looking for summer internships to take some time early on to think about your policy interests, what you hope to get from an internship and the type of organization that would be a good fit for you. By identifying your interests and goals for the summer, you can better refine your internship search. And once you start your internship, you’ll have a much better sense of what you hope accomplish during the summer. Of course, it goes without saying that starting the internship hunt earlier rather than later is always beneficial.
Another piece of advice that’s important to keep in mind is to be creative during your internship hunt. If an organization you’re interested in doesn’t mention internship opportunities online, get in touch with them anyway and discuss the possibility of an internship. Or try to find an alumni contact at this organization and raise the possibility of creating an internship position for the summer. While this approach does require more leg-work initially, it could lead to a rewarding summer opportunity. I used this approach for a few organizations I was interested in, and while it did not end in me taking an internship position with any of these organizations, I did make some new professional contacts that could prove beneficial in the future.