Center for Middle East Policy Research Internship Reflection

In the fall of 2019, I was a research intern at the Center for Middle East Policy within the Foreign Policy division at the Brookings Institution, one of the nation’s leading independent think tanks. Brookings prides itself on producing unbiased and nonpartisan research and analysis on many of the world’s most pressing issues. The Center for Middle East Policy (CMEP) focuses on a variety of issues and countries within the Middle East. Within the Center, I was a research intern, which meant that I was assigned to a research assistant, who in turn assisted a few scholars within the Center. I was encouraged by my mentor to reach out to scholars whose work I’d long admired, and the lessons that I learned through those conversations are invaluable. During the internship, and I was given free rein to take initiative when I wanted to work on a project to which I hadn’t been formerly assigned. Constant encouragement from the scholars that I got to work with allowed to discover new topics and issues that I hadn’t been aware of before, and my interactions with those who had decades of research experience provided insight that would have been impossible to gain at any other internship. 

As a research intern, I was assigned to various projects throughout the term. One thing that I quickly learned and was later able to take full advantage of was that Brookings has an extremely open-office policy and encourages students to take initiative and to work on projects that they are interested in. One scholar in particular, Shadi Hamid, was a primary reason that I had applied to Brookings in the first place. His work on Islamist political parties and on the relationship between Islamophobia and the rise of right-wing populism in Europe had inspired both curiosity as well as some of my papers for classes at Dartmouth. I was lucky enough to meet with him in person multiple times throughout the fall term. H readily accepted me onto his team and allowed me to assist him on his project throughout the term. The general openness of scholars at Brookings is something that I will always remember with great appreciation when I think back to my time here. 

A second aspect of my internship that I greatly appreciated was the accessibility of a variety of mentors and resources at Brookings. Not only were my immediate research mentor and supervisor ready and willing to speak with me about any issue, I was also able to coordinate directly with scholars for whom I was completing research. During regular weekly check-ins, my supervisor and my research mentor sat down together to discuss the tasks that I was working on, and to assess my performance. It was through this constant communication that I eventually was able to write an event summary for the Brookings website—a task usually delegated to research assistants, not interns. Because I had such easy access to a mentor, who was more than happy to answer my questions and refer me to any people that I might need to contact, I was able to take on tasks that were not usually assumed by the interns. 

I have a great respect for the scholars that I had the opportunity to work with during my internship. In the future, I will endeavor to follow in their footsteps, and seek to further my understanding on a policy issue or theme through a PhD program. My internship funding allowed me to pursue a learning opportunity that would have otherwise been impossible for me. Without it, I would not have been able to pursue this opportunity that has in retrospect added so much to my skillset and exposed me to a plethora of different career opportunities.  

Originally published by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences. 


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