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Foreign Policy Research Institute Internships - Should You Apply?

The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) is a Philadelphia-based American think tank specializing in geopolitical studies, international relations, and global security across various regions. Founded by Ambassador Robert Strausz-Hupé, the institute's mission is to promote education in international affairs by offering programs for high school and junior college students to enhance their understanding of global issues.

Undertaking an internship, particularly in public policy and law, can be a game-changer for high school students' college applications. It goes beyond grades and activities, demonstrating a strong skill set and a genuine commitment to addressing real-world issues.


Internships enable students to apply classroom learning to practical situations, showcasing their ability to translate theory into action while engaging with professionals in the field nurtures critical thinking and proactive problem-solving.


Choosing an internship in public policy and law reflects a student's motivation to make a positive impact which resonates with admissions committees, revealing a dedication to meaningful causes and community betterment.


Securing a letter of recommendation from organizations like the FPRI adds a powerful dimension. A strong endorsement from a respected professional provides an external validation of a student's qualities and potential contributions.



What Does FPRI do as an institute?

The Foreign Policy Research Institute conducts nonpartisan research on U.S. foreign policy challenges, providing analysis through reports, articles, and briefs tailored for various audiences through public events and briefings.


FPRI is dedicated to producing high-level learning and unbiased policy analysis to address vital foreign and national policy issues facing the United States. As part of its commitment to nurturing young scholars and individuals interested in global affairs, FPRI provides internships that offer hands-on training on foreign relations paired with specific scholars or professionals in the field.


This review will explore the pros and cons of the FPRI internship program, available internships, and application guidelines.


Note: While the internship opportunities primarily target college students, high school interns are accepted case-by-case and can apply with a resume and cover letter to intern@fpri.org.



Who is it for?

If you are looking for a mentored, in-person research role while in high school, you can consider applying for this role. Note that this role requires sound knowledge of data analysis, as well as students who are willing to conduct in-person research.



Research Opportunities at FPRI

FPRI offers four types of internships:

  1. Research Internships: The offered research internships work closely with FPRI scholars specializing in one of four regional areas: Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and the Middle East. Successful applicants will be paired with scholars from their chosen program to engage in their work and may even be considered for publication on the FPRI's Intern Corner. Remote positions for this role are also available, enabling Zoom, email, or phone communication. Proficiency in an advanced foreign language, data analysis skills, and prior experience in study abroad or field research is highly valued for this role. This is a role well suited for students looking to work on or major in global policy or international relations.

  2. Special Events and Development Internships: These interns collaborate with the Development Director and Event Manager to handle various event-related tasks. These events may include talks, gatherings, webinars, or social communication with the FPRI and other organizations. Applicants for this role should have a flexible work schedule, including availability for evening events, and preference is given to students local to the Philadelphia, PA, area. This role is suitable for students looking to engage in marketing or communications strategy on a global scale.

  3. Editorial Internships: Editorial interns are involved in various writing and editing tasks, contributing to FPRI's publications and analyses. This role requires strong writing and research skills for fact-checking, copy editing, and proofreading. This role serves well for students looking to work in journalism and public relations.

  4. Operations Internships: These interns assist with FPRI's administrative tasks, research-related projects, and other organizational duties. Requirements for this role are relatively minimal and are well suited for students looking to have broad exposure to the FPRI.

  5. Communications Internship: The FPRI released a new position that works primarily with the International Crisis Management course instructor and the FPRI’s Assistant Director of Communications to facilitate and conduct a digital classroom. Roles will include training to set up and operate Zoom Webinars.



Applicants interested in specific regional research teams have additional criteria to meet. For instance:

  • Asia-focused applicants should have experience in translating Chinese language documents or data analysis.

  • Eurasia-focused applicants should have prior field experience and advanced language skills.

  • Middle Eastern-focused applicants should possess language skills in one or more languages commonly used in the Middle East, such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, or Kurdish.



Who Can Apply?

Though FPRI's internships are primarily aimed at university students, high-school applicants are welcome to engage in high-level research experience early on in their academic journey. High school students who are authorized to work in the US are encouraged to send in their resume and cover letter in a single PDF file and if selected, will be contacted for a follow-up interview.



Deadlines

For the fall internship program, the duration spans from September to December. The application deadline is July 23rd, and decisions are released on August 18th.


Interested candidates can apply through here.


As for the spring and summer internship dates in 2024 are yet to be finalized but will be updated on the FPRI website.



What Do Students Do in the Program?

FPRI provides a unique opportunity for interns to showcase their work through the Intern Corner. Interns can demonstrate their research and policy analysis skills by publishing their work with the institution. Current publications cover diverse topics, including global and political tensions, environmental policy, global economies, road infrastructure, women's health, and military regimes worldwide.



Pros and Cons of the Foreign Policy Research Institute Internship

Pros:

  1. Early Exposure to Global Affairs: As the program accepts high school applicants, students gain early exposure to global affairs at a prestigious think tank level. This experience can greatly enhance their profile when pursuing global policy, politics, or public affairs careers. Former FPRI interns have secured influential positions within the US government including the first US Ambassador to Kosovo, the Undersecretary of Defense and many more key posts.

  2. Mentorship and Communication Skill Building: Interns have the opportunity to build strong relationships with their respective mentors. Working with scholars in their field of interest can have a lasting impact on future applications and recommendations.

  3. Range in Opportunities and Interests: You can choose from a range of roles that the FPRI offers. Students can select their area of focus such as research, programming, operations, or writing work.

  4. Networking Opportunities: Collaborations with other think tanks and academic institutions provide students with valuable opportunities to exchange ideas and perspectives on foreign policy issues, fostering their interests in global studies.

  5. Opportunity for rigorous research work: Interns can publish reports, articles, and analyses, gaining valuable writing experience and establishing themselves as published writers.

  6. An immersive and flexible experience: This opportunity allows students the opportunity to produce a competitive college application with the experience and networking skill offered with the FPRI’s internship program.

Cons:

  1. Limited Opportunity for High Schoolers: The internship program may not be as accessible to high school students due to its focus on college-level applicants. Nonetheless, all are encouraged to apply. Since the program primarily targets college-level candidates, it can be highly competitive, especially for specific roles with additional requirements. The process of application for high interns who are still in high school is quite rigorous however, landing an internship at the FPRI is a prestigious experience.

  2. Limited internships in-person and remote: Some internships may require students to be based in Philadelphia, while others allow remote work. Applicants should verify the type of internship they are applying for.

  3. Time-Intensive: Interns are expected to dedicate 10 to 20 hours per week to the program, which might be challenging for students juggling multiple jobs or summer courses.



How can you get an internship at FPRI as a high school student?

  1. Aim for the right internship for your profile: This may not be the time to apply for an internship for which you don’t have a strong skill-set, simply because you’re competing against older students. So, if you have a strong background in social media marketing or communications as opposed to research, we’d encourage you to apply for the communications internship over the research internship. On the other hand, if you have a decent understanding of research and a pretty solid ability to do data analysis, you should aim for the research internship! If you’ve organized events or run a club, we’d recommend you apply for the operations and events internships.

  2. Understand what you want your takeaway to be and showcase your profile accordingly: Fair warning that some of these internships will reach you more directly about foreign policy, while the others may teach you more general skill sets. For instance, if you want the takeaway to be academically rigorous research and you apply for communications, it may signal to the reviewer that you do not, in fact, understand which role you are applying for or are ‘settling’. If you are happy to build general skill-sets, spend time talking about “why” at FPRI. If you are looking to do research, spend time on the “why” but perhaps refer to the caliber or researchers and papers.

  3. If you do not get a paid internship, consider an unpaid internship: The Foreign Policy Research Institute Internship offers a great set of opportunities for foreign policy research. As an ambitious high school student interested in global affairs, you should try to apply for these internships, even if the process might be competitive. If you successfully earn an internship and perform well, it will be a signal to colleges that your knowledge/skill-level, maturity is quite at par with an undergraduate student. You will also learn a lot by surrounding yourself with the staff and other, older interns! While the application process may be competitive and some roles require specific qualifications, successful applicants will benefit from early exposure to the field, mentorship opportunities, and the chance to publish their work, fostering their research and policy analysis growth.

  4. Showcase your skills: Securing internships in competitive fields like public policy and law during high school might appear daunting, but a well-planned approach can help you effectively compete and stand out. Leverage personal connections to uncover hidden avenues and advice when crafting a standout resume that highlights your academic achievements, relevant coursework, and extracurricular activities. Tailor your cover letter to showcase your genuine passion for the field and your transferable skills to global affairs. If you have a portfolio of ideas that highlight your writing skills, create a site for easy access and committees to view. Home in on your interview skills by articulating your enthusiasm, skills, and adaptability and embrace unpaid or part-time positions for the experience they offer. Stay persistent in your efforts, and remember that your dedication and unique perspective as a high school student can be assets in gaining valuable internships.


The FPRI presents a valuable opportunity for high school students to delve into the realm of global affairs and engage with a community dedicated to advancing public policy discussions. By applying for the FPRI internship, students gain access to a competitive and enriching environment that enhances both academic and interpersonal skills. It's important to note that this opportunity is highly competitive and demanding. Take the time to assess your goals and determine if FPRI aligns with your academic and career aspirations. This role can provide significant skill-building and growth potential for your future endeavors.


If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!


Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 


The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas.


The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 


The fields include technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism and more.


You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 


Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!


If you are interested in doing university-level research in law, public policy, and international relations, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Tenzing Dolma is a Masters student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelors in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is currently completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers!


Image Source: FPRI logo

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