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International Affairs, Policy, and Politics Internships

McKenzie Richardson - Wilson Center


UCDC Cohort: Winter 2019

Major: Political Science, Public Policy

Internship: Wilson Center

What was a day in your internship like? What was a standout moment?:

My typical day in the office first started with saying hi to the security guards in the lobby of the Reagan Building and then making small talk with one of the scholars or staff members in the elevator. I then sat down at my desk to ferociously read the latest news from 10+ news sources and compile an email listing the top 3 foreign affairs events that the Communications team should be aware of. After sending that email to the Communications team I would then look at the schedule of events the Wilson Center had for that day and would ask my supervisor which ones he wanted me to attend. My job at these events was to transcribe quotes made by our scholars and guests to post on our website. Oftentimes those same quotes would show up in tomorrow’s news! The rest of my day would be spent going to those events, accompanying scholars to their interviews on news stations like CNN and NPR, and completing media tasks like compiling a press list for upcoming events. I was able to meet very cool high-profile guest speakers like General Patraeaus (Ret.) and the President of Colombia Ivan Duquez in addition to getting to know our Wilson scholars. My very last task of the day was to send out a daily newsletter to the entire Wilson Center showcasing all of the citations mentioning quotes and articles written by our Wilson scholars. Every day was different and I loved it!

A standout moment at my internship was being the only intern in the room during a Ground Truth Briefing (GTB) - “The audio event series that responds to tough issues in real time with the help of our Fellows and experts who are on the ground in hot spots around the globe” (Wilson Center). This particular GTB was on the escalating nuclear tensions in India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region. I was one of only four people, including the President and the VP of the Wilson Center, in the room while the conversation was led by the ambassadors to India and Pakistan. The tension in the room was immense as the conversation tackled the issue of how probable a nuclear war was between the two countries. I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t believe they trusted me to be there taking notes and quotes for the world to see!

Share an exciting memory from your internship or living in D.C. – something unexpected, an accomplishment, someone you met.

My favorite DC memory happened on a Friday when my boss’ boss told me that the filming of the show The Handmaid’s Tale was happening right now at the Lincoln Memorial for one day only. I love the show and sheepishly asked if I could leave work early to check it out. Not only did she say yes but she asked me to send her some videos! My boyfriend happened to be visiting town so I gave him a call to meet me at the Washington Monument where we then rode Bird scooters to the Lincoln Memorial. To my shock the steps were covered in crowds of women wearing the iconic red costumes and the memorial had been turned into a production set. My boyfriend and I got there right as they asked for onlookers to move to the top of the memorial so that they could shoot a scene looking out towards the reflection pool. Once the scene had been shot they asked all of us to be in their Instagram video to promote the new season! My boyfriend and I were smiling with the cast in the very front row. I will never forget that memory!

Have your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how?

Prior to UCDC, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. My internship at the Wilson Center helped me learn that I am very passionate about U.S. security concerns related to foreign policy. While reflecting on my favorite events I attended, I realized that the ones that piqued my interest the most were ones covering security and diplomacy. I also really enjoyed talking to scholars about issues that intersected many policy areas, such as the Arctic region’s importance to climate change, U.S. security, and international cooperation. While in D.C. I started thinking about graduate school and if I were to go, what would I study? UCDC helped me figure out that I want to pursue a Master of Public Policy with a focus in Peace and Security and then after graduation go on to work in the upper levels of government like the State Department or the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I also figured out that while working in Media Relations was fun for an internship, I’m not interested in making it a career path!

Do you have any advice for future UCDC students? 

My advice to future UCDC students would be to make sure you are treating your internship as an opportunity to find out what careers may not be a good fit for you and what different career paths look like. While completing my media internship I found myself asking lots of questions about the differences between academia and administration in a think tank and what other kinds of jobs people did before coming to the Wilson Center. I learned a lot about the impact of graduate school (the verdict - you don’t need it unless you want to go into heavy academia!) and what kinds of opportunities were available instead of higher education to jump start a career. Ultimately I chose to attend graduate school and my colleagues at the Wilson Center were monumental in helping me determine why it would help my career. My supervisor was incredibly supportive of my interest in policy-making and ensured that during my internship I had the opportunity to talk to many people and attend different policy events. He let me know that he was glad that my internship allowed me to explore different careers in research and policy-making, and ultimately he wrote one of my letters of recommendation for my graduate school applications.

Cailin Liu - Wilson Center


UCDC Cohort: Fall 2018

Major: Cognitive Science

Internship: External Relations and Media

Favorite or most memorable part of your internship: I interned at a think tank and frequently accompanied several of our scholars to interviews with news outlets like C-SPAN, NPR, and CNN. It was really cool to be behind the scenes of interviews that I'd see on TV or radio later, plus I got to meet people like Wolf Blitzer and John Kerry.

Fun fact about DC or UCDC: DC's Ethiopian food is famous and you should really try it at Keren in Adams Morgan (~20 min walk from UCDC) 

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals: I learned a lot about policy research during my internship and I think it's something I'd like to return to in the future. Being in DC also exposed me to a variety of industries and careers that I wouldn't have encountered in San Diego, so I know I have a lot more postgrad options now.

Bailey Marsheck - American Foreign Policy Council


UCDC Cohort: Spring 2017

Major: International Studies-Economics

Favorite or most memorable part of your internship: Working with students from around the country and learning from those specializing in areas different than my own. I gained a much greater knowledge of global affairs just by being in Washington, D.C. where people live and breath the issues that sometimes go unnoticed at UCSD.

Fun fact about DC or UCDC: Almost everybody in DC is open to sitting down with you for coffee and discussing their passions if you just ask!

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals: I hope to build a career working in China and have been connected with professionals working in China by the network I built in D.C