Over the 2016 summer, I interned at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) within the Africa Studies Program. CFR is one of the primer think tanks in the world that promotes better understanding and independent research regarding foreign policy that affects not only the United States but countries across the world. CFR accomplishes this in three manners: as a membership organization, publisher, and think tank. CFR has nearly 5,000 members and 170 corporate members that it helps bring together via influential forums. CFR also publishes information through various avenues, with the prominent publication being Foreign Affairs, a leading magazine on foreign policy and global affairs. Finally, as think tank, CFR has nearly seventy fellows that research, write, and analyze leading global issues across various regions and sectors.
I was fortunate enough to work under Ambassador John Campbell, the senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies. During my time working with Ambassador Campbell and his research associate, I worked to support the Africa studies department by editing and drafting publications, gathering research on policy issues, and completing administrative tasks. As an intern, I was encouraged to write independent research pieces that were relevant with my academic and professional experiences to be published on the Africa studies blog. I was able to publish online on topics related to Ethiopia and Eritrea security issues, Africa and China relations, and challenges people with albinism face in Southern and Eastern Africa. Interns also have access to general meetings and roundtable discussions with prominent experts speaking on contemporary global issues.
The exposure I had while at CFR has contributed tremendously to my goal of eventually working on the African continent, be it in economics, business development, or international relations. It also provided me the opportunity to utilize the knowledge I gained in my course studies in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) at Fordham University and five years working in sub-Saharan Africa. More importantly, my CFR internship was made possible because of the Summer IPED Fellowship I was graciously awarded. Because of the fellowship, I was able to completely immerse myself at CFR and participate fully in the research, events, and work.
IPED has a strong relationship with CFR and sends interns to the various departments. Applying online to African Policy Studies, the Center for Preventative Action, or other internships that align with one’s experience is the best way to gain an internship at the institution, as it is meritocratic and selective based on academic and professional experience.