By Emma Sorckoff
Did you know that statistically speaking, it’s more competitive to secure an internship with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) than it is to get into Stanford University? Every semester, the Council receives tens of thousands of applications from hopeful students with an interest in foreign policy. Last summer, I was lucky enough to be selected for one of those spots as an intern in the Education department. Out of about 40 interns, I was the only one from Georgia, and one of only a handful of students from universities in the South.
Initially, imposter syndrome set in and I was confused as to how I ended up in the same internship cohort as a bunch of students from Ivy League schools or those who were already finished with their undergraduate degrees. While some interns were working in either the New York City or Washington DC offices in a hybrid format, the majority of us were remote. At first I was concerned about how engaged I would feel to my peers and within the organization as a remote intern, but I was continually impressed by the programming of the Human Resources department that kept the interns interacting with one another. During our Intern Professional Development seminars, we had the opportunity to learn from the expertise of a wide range of employees at the Council – from senior editors of Foreign Affairs magazine to Richard Haass, the President of CFR himself.
Within the Education department, I had the opportunity to work on the Model Diplomacy team. We developed several kinds of educational resources intended to help teachers educate their students about foreign policy and international affairs. Model Diplomacy is somewhat similar to Model UN, but the cases are historically accurate and intended for a wider age range. My time at the Council was filled with a variety of tasks including photo research, developing pitches for new cases, and lots of editing. I had a wonderful experience working at CFR this summer and left the position with far greater insight into life working at a prestigious think tank.
If you are interested in foreign policy, I cannot recommend the Council on Foreign Relations enough! Aside from the name notoriety inevitably associated with the iconic institution that is over one hundred years old, you’ll get to experience a work environment that genuinely values the questions and insights of interns. Of course, I would like to believe that all internships are engaging, hands-on experiences, but I am well aware that in reality this is not the case. My coursework, research experience, and engagement as a SPIA Ambassador was crucial to the success of my application! I was able to discuss classes that I had taken and projects I had completed when writing my cover letter and eventually in my interviews. So, if you think an internship at the Council on Foreign Relations sounds like the right fit for you, don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back! SPIA students are rockstars capable of making real change in the world, and internships are a great way to get started on that journey.