By Dr. Jonathan Miner

Senior Robert Young (image on the LEFT, left) interned at the National Defense University in the Republic of Georgia, a military academy equivalent to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The summer months are often a time to relax and take a break from the rigors of college, but international affairs students often use that time to study abroad or find internships to complete their degree. During the summer of 2016, 16 IA students traveled the United States and the world to find “work”; to seek positions designed to increase their understanding of foreign cultures, people, and politics; and to increase their marketability after graduation. IA majors worked in equally interesting locations and for a variety of entities. Senior Robert Young (image on the left, left) interned at the National Defense University in the Republic of Georgia, a military academy equivalent to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “While there I assisted the GDIT staff to advise the NDA [National Defense Academy] Cadre and staff to train and educate the cadets. Most of my actual work was conducted while in the field with the cadets observing and analyzing their training from the perspective of a current soldier and former cadet myself.”

Tanner Scroggins in Portuga worked at the Quinta Azenha farm in Ourique, Portugal, at a private farm and guest house, where he tended to animals and worked at the various businesses owned by a British couple who relocated to southern Portugal, gaining a unique perspective of the Brexit vote from the many Europeans with whom he worked. “I gained a unique perspective into the lifestyles of the rural population that I would have never had before…. For the first time, a major vote like the EU referendum hit close to home as I saw the anguish and despair of the people who would be impacted the most.”

A dozen other international affairs students participated in internships around the world, including Chase Parker at municipal tourism agency in Tel Aviv, Israel; Danielle Mummaw in London, U. K., with a U. S.-based, international NGO; Chelsea Falk at the Chysalis business startup incubator firm in Santiago, Chile; Darion Gibson at Liaocheng University in China; Chrystal Martinez at the Hall County Family Life center in Gainesville’s hispanic community; Jacob Yingling at Sword APAK Corporation in Alpharetta, Ga.; and Melody Moore, Richard Socia, and Nathan Patterson interned at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Atlanta, while Eli Fierer worked in the IRC’s Baltimore office, each interacting daily with newly arrived immigrants to the United States from the Middle East.

Seth McCormick (image to the left, top right) and Colin Marney (left) spent the summer in Daugavpils, Latvia, working at the Priedite orphanage with children ages 7 to 14. Seth recalls that, “on a formal level, I gained a deeper level of knowledge on subjects that related to the ways in which local and regional governments attempt to implement social programs that benefit children like those I met at the orphanage. Having a background in international affairs helped to provide a base of knowledge that allowed me to converse with the staff at the orphanage—particularly in regards to the ways that the Lativan government is still dealing with the effects of 50-plus years of Communist rule…. On my last day, I knew that our internship experience was worthwhile. It was a very tearful experience as we left the final time. We came to understand that, for two brief, chaotic months, not only did we develop personally and professionally, but we also made a visible impact in the lives of people who benefited from having a positive influence in their life. For those asking whether or not the internship was a valuable experience, my answer is simply: ‘Absolutely—certainly for those who wish to volunteer, and hopefully for the people you’ll meet while there.’”

Lastly, Jacob Fortner (image below, center, white shirt) interned at the United States EU Command in Stuttgart, Germany: “My internship gave me valuable experience in analyzing and facilitating a Pol-Mil relationship between the United States and foreign nations. During my internship I acted as a desk officer for the Western Balkans branch of the European Plans and Policy Division at Headquarters United States European Command. I consulted with subject-matter experts, both domestic and abroad, on how to keep the diplomatic relationship between the United States armed forces and European governments healthy. This was a remarkable opportunity to put theory into practice and learn how to be diplomatic when representing the United States.” Over 100 international affairs students have completed internships since the degree was introduced in 2007. The Department of Political Science & International Affairs welcomes the opportunity to make new internship connections for its students. Please contact the internship director, Dr. Jonathan Miner at , with questions or inquiries.