I chose this internship largely because I wanted to work on nuclear issues over the summer in order to be able to speak more fluently about the subject matter. It was appealing because it was a research internship, which would allow me to delve deeply into the issues. The internship provided opportunities to attend various events around town further enhancing my understanding of nuclear issues and giving me an opportunity to hear from policy professionals. I also wanted to work for a smaller organization where I would be able to interact more fully with the staff and get to know their experiences in the field.
This experience has helped to supplement my coursework in technology and nuclear weapons. I think it also provided a good primer for taking the SSP course Defense Budgeting because I spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the nuclear side of defense budgeting. I have heard from a number of career panelists that understanding how defense budgeting works is a tremendous asset in a national security career and I have begun to understand how different parts of the Defense Department shape their budgets. I have gained subject matter fluency in nuclear modernization budgeting and the arguments both for and against modernizing our nuclear forces. One of my primary goals was to gain subject matter fluency this summer and I certainly have a better understanding of nuclear weapons arguments. Having this subject matter fluency will help me in the long run because I now have a greater depth of knowledge as opposed to breadth.
I learned a lot about the field but also about myself this summer. The biggest thing I took away from my internship experience this summer is that doing research all day long is harder than I thought it would be. I have learned a lot about what I am looking for in a career and I found that I work best when I have a variety of projects to work on. I also learned that in looking for a good cultural fit in an organization, it’s important to understand how other professionals and colleagues spend their work days – it’s not just about what they do but how they do it, and how they approach their work.