Written by John Foulkes – Program Advisor, Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA)
Growing up I loved reading about history. Learning about the Romans or the Ottomans, about revolutionaries and freedom fighters, really stirred my imagination on the effects people can have on the world. Eventually, this led me in high school to start reading about international relations and current affairs, and I haven’t looked back since.
Perhaps inevitably, this passion brought me to DC last summer, as a student with The Fund for American Studies’ Institute on Economics and International Affairs program. The program drew me in through its unique premise which seemed like the best option for me to learn about world affairs, both in the classroom and in the office, and launch the international career I have always wanted. From Washington, the world’s sole superpower conducts its foreign policies. It is also where Andrew Jackson beat a would-be assassin half to death with his cane, Teddy Roosevelt swam in the Potomac every day, and JFK asked us to do what we could for the country.
This might have been my favorite aspect of coming to DC. On the way to my internship every morning, I’d follow Pennsylvania Avenue and see the White House. Some of my favorite memories of last summer came from walking around the historic city to museums and monuments with the great friends I made. You really can’t beat the National Mall for its Smithsonian Museums and national monuments. I loved going to the Sculpture Garden for Jazz in the Garden every Friday, as well as visiting the new African American Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and more. Not to mention, you haven’t lived until you watch the sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial. And this doesn’t begin to describe how amazing it is to work in the city.
I had the pleasure of having two internships this past summer. Arriving in DC I was working with the Free Russia Foundation, an organization of Russian expats working to highlight the human rights abuses of the Putin regime, and his danger to free elections and world stability. Working to bring attention to these important issues alongside my boss was a true pleasure. Since the Free Russia Foundation lacked an office, I worked remotely at the time, and so took the opportunity to join the Jamestown Foundation as their Global Security Intern. Jamestown works to inform the public and policymakers about societies that are strategically important to the US and which restrict access to information. I had the opportunity to analyze global events and organize meetings of foreign policy experts to discuss these issues. Both of these experiences were a true pleasure.
TFAS gives you the chance to learn at George Mason University as well as work in Washington. My favorite class was American Foreign Policy with Dr. Gary Armstrong. This is a great class on the strains of foreign policy thought in the United States and the current struggles the country faces internationally. Dr. Armstrong leads the class expertly and guided the class through complex ideas and problems.
Overall, TFAS was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I met amazing professors and DC professionals, made some lifelong friends and had the experience of a lifetime. I highly encourage everyone coming to this year’s summer program to make new friends and explore the city! Also, make the effort to connect with professionals at your internship site, I still contact the employees I worked with and it is very rewarding. You could not have made a better choice on how to spend your summer, and I am excited to meet everyone!