2018 Summer Internship Series: Brian Harper at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas

by: Brian Harper ’19

I spent the summer of 2018 working with Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA), a remarkable opportunity to research and write about some of the most fascinating contemporary topics in Latin America.

Established in the 1960s, the two organizations that make up AS/COA are designed to foster learning and debate surrounding major political, economic, and social issues and trends throughout the Americas. This mission was especially relevant in 2018, with nine Latin American countries holding elections or otherwise experiencing a transition of power (in one case unexpectedly). AS/COA members include experts in relevant fields, while top governmental ministers and even sitting and former presidents routinely speak at AS/COA events.

Brian at the AS/COA

As part of AS/COA’s Web Team, my role was to support my colleagues in research, maintaining and updating AS/COA’s website with new content, and overseeing the organizations’ social media presence (primarily via Facebook and Twitter). When AS/COA held one of its Latin American Cities Conferences—as it did in Quito, Ecuador on my first day—it was my job to assist in live Tweeting the event. This task put my Spanish skills to the test.

Brian with the team from AS/COA

My coworkers have been exceedingly generous in giving me opportunities to cover topics that are of interest to me and AS/COA members. A story I pitched on a Migration Policy Institute report led to my putting together an article with interactive graphs documenting immigration policy under U.S. President Donald Trump. I also conducted an interview with a renowned Colombian journalist, wrote detailed explainers on Brazil’s presidential candidates and Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace, and assessed Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra’s first 100 days in office. Furthermore, I joined Young Professionals of the Americas’ (YPA) internal committee to help build a community of the next generation of leaders dedicated to AS/COA’s mission.

Reading academic and policy-oriented papers in IPED classes like Econometrics and Politics of Global Economic Relations made me more comfortable in the research I did with AS/COA. Moreover, I was able to synthesize what I learned in my work into papers I wrote on Colombia and Argentina for Political Risk Analysis and Emerging Markets respectively. Finally, this internship both complemented and built upon work I am doing with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Latin America Studies program.

I would encourage anyone interested in Latin America to consider applying to work with AS/COA or attending a YPA event. In addition to the Web Team, other departments offer internships, such as Communications and Strategic Engagement. You can learn more by visiting www.as-coa.org or following on these  organizations on social media (@ASCOA and @ascoaYPA).