At CMED, we want to encourage everyone to take a greater interest in the Middle East since it plays such a major role in US foreign policy. Luckily for students at UCLA, there are opportunities to get first-hand experience with various aspects of policy-making, and one of the best programs is the UCLA Center for American Politics and Public Policy (CAPPP).
The fall quarter of my junior year, I had the incredible opportunity to spend a quarter in Washington D.C. through the CAPPP program. Unlike some of my friends whose study abroad experience led them to explore a new country, I was able to experience the inner-workings on my own country.
Students who are accepted into the program conduct a research project on a topic of their choice and intern at one of D.C.’s thousands of government agencies, think tanks, NGOs, non-profits, media outlets, advocacy, trade, and business organizations.
For a foreign policy buff like myself, Washington seemed to be akin to taking a drive down Hollywood and Vine. The chance that you would see and even interact with someone famous was pretty likely. But unlike Hollywood, the people I hoped to see in Washington were a different kind of celebrity.
I could care less if you were on Jersey Shore but, if you helped draft a certain policy or were an expert on Middle Eastern issues, I wanted an autograph or, better yet, a business card.
So when I landed an internship at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (TWI), I was star struck to say the least. I worked under the direction of the esteemed David Makovsky on the Institute’s Project on Middle East Peace. In the same department was Ambassador Dennis Ross. A few office doors down were former ambassadors, a former director in the National Security Council, respected journalists, military fellows, and many other impressive experts and diplomats with whom I had the opportunity to interact on a daily basis.
Throughout my time at TWI, I was able to meet high-level officials both in the American and foreign governments and intelligence communities. I was given the opportunity to listen as major policy-makers drafted suggestions for American foreign policy in the Middle East. I even co-wrote an article with David Makovsky.
Beyond all these extraordinary opportunities, I gained a lot from my day-to-day work: I learned how to write short briefs, think analytically about complicated issues, conduct extensive and often hard to find research, speak to diplomats and important officials with confidence, and many other invaluable skills.
Based on my review thus far, I think it’s evident that I’m a huge proponent of the Washington internship experience and even more so of the CAPPP program. It taught me some of the most important skills that I’ll need once I’m handed my diploma at graduation this year and make my way into the workforce.
For MENA-inclined students who are interested in CAPPP, I would encourage you to check out this list of a few of the many respected think-tanks, to which you can apply.
The deadline for the application to the Spring Quarter in Washington is October 31, 2013.
For more information about the application process, please click here.