2020 PFIG Recipient Chloe Suzman

Jessica Meyers

Journal Entry #1

This summer, I am a remote intern for the Brookings Institution, specifically the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) in the Foreign Policy program. At UVA, I am majoring in Political Philosophy, Policy & Law and French, and I have always been interested in European politics. This interest grew stronger during my study abroad semester in France, which led me to apply to this position. The other members of the CUSE team include research assistants, fellows, and administrative staff members. While I am the only CUSE intern, there are about 60 interns across the entire institution. Interns convene often (virtually) for professional development workshops, brown bag lunches, and social networking hours. I was disappointed that my internship could not be in person in D.C., but I have still really enjoyed my experience so far.

During my three weeks here, I have worked on a wide range of tasks–brainstorming lists of panelists for upcoming events, compiling resources for fellows for their speaking appearances, writing summaries for past Brookings events, tracking European responses to US protests, editing event announcements and transcripts, doing preliminary research for a scholar’s proposed project, and more. I also have drafted tweets for CUSE webinars. I am not particularly social media savvy, so I am especially grateful for the opportunity to sharpen these skills. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of this internship has been the fascinating meetings I have been able to attend and the scholars I have been able to interact with. I have listened to top policy experts debate about everything from US-China relations to the economic parallels between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the current COVID-19 pandemic. One especially memorable moment was a meeting of the entire Foreign Policy program, where people shared reflections about racism and police brutality in the US and what the role of foreign policy experts might be during this moment.  Interns are encouraged to participate during these meetings and network with people both inside and outside their specific program. Scholars also seem genuinely willing to provide mentorship and advice. I have already scheduled one-on-one meetings with a few people, and I look forward to doing more of this in the coming weeks.

Journal Entry #2

Greetings from the end of my seventh week at Brookings! After my first journal entry, I spent much of my time preparing for a big (virtual) event on European security and defense that we held in partnership with the European Union Delegation to the United States. My tasks included drafting opening remarks for speakers, compiling questions for moderators to ask panelists, attending weekly planning meetings with the EU delegation, and editing the event page for the Brookings website. The event involved 44 American and European participants spread out over two days, so I learned a lot about how to stay organized and adapt to last-minute changes in situations with many moving pieces. Preparing for this event also required gaining an in-depth understanding of topics I was not very familiar with previously, particularly NATO and European Union defense strategy. 

I also worked on a quarterly report about the state of transatlantic relations, which involved collecting a wide range of data–everything from the frequency of phone calls between Trump and foreign leaders, to European unemployment rates, to Netflix subscription numbers. I am finding that I really do enjoy the research process and the satisfaction that comes with tracking down difficult-to-find information. Another highlight has been getting to know Brookings staff and scholars better. During Brookings-wide meetings, I get to hear their analyses of current events including recent Supreme Court decisions, the 2020 election, and shifting European-Chinese relations. In smaller Zoom lunches with the CUSE team, we get to know each other on a more personal level, and in one-on-one conversations, I have received great advice about graduate school, State Department careers, and much more. In some ways, it is hard to think about all the spontaneous interactions I am missing by not being in the office; on the other hand, I am incredibly grateful to be part of an internship program that works hard to create such a meaningful virtual experience.  

Journal Entry #3

During the last three weeks of my internship, I took notes at many virtual events about the 2020 election in preparation for a CUSE webinar about election security. As the November election approaches, I am glad that I now have background knowledge about voter suppression, disinformation, foreign interference, and other relevant topics. I also did some background research for two scholars’ book projects and co-wrote three event summaries which were posted on the Brookings website.

Despite the virtual format, my internship was a dynamic and fruitful experience. In addition to improving my research and writing abilities, I also gained broader professional skills that could serve me in any career. I used to be hesitant about reaching out to people for professional advice because I worried about posing a burden. The warmth and openness of Brooking staff and scholars this summer helped me get over this trepidation. I learned that even the busiest people are generally happy to do an informational interview, particularly if I am prepared with specific, well-researched questions. Throughout the summer, I often remarked that completing my internship felt like taking the world’s coolest class. The breadth of knowledge and experience at Brookings led to some truly special learning experiences. For example, when news broke of the tragic explosion in Beirut, I was in a call with a former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon who provided us with expert analysis on the spot. I will definitely miss having daily access to the Brookings network, but I am excited to keep in touch with the people I interacted with and to use what I learned in my classes and in my future career.

I am so glad that the Parents Fund Grant was able to make this internship possible. Brookings offers dozens of internships throughout the year, and I enthusiastically recommend the experience to any UVA student!