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U.S.-ASEAN Business Council
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Benjamin Black

Major: Asian Studies; International Politics
Minor: Chinese; History
Hometown: Hollidaysburg, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I started with internship databases through Penn State and those available online. Eventually, I stumbled upon The Council's website and decided to apply based on my regional interests.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

In this position, I was assigned a portfolio of a South-East Asian Country and a subset of topics (the environment, trade, energy, etc.…) for which I wrote a daily briefing memo. The memos that I write will be sent to American Corporations that are members of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, such as Apple, Amazon, and Coca-Cola, who have hired the “Council” to assist them in their Asia business ventures. I also contributed to academic reports and publications, drafted a white paper for the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Manila, participated in a lunch with the Cambodian Minister of Commerce, and wrote meeting scripts for the Council's business missions to meet with the Prime Minister of Thailand in Bangkok and the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

I was able to continue thesis research while doing my internship

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience tested my research abilities, expanded my resources by exposing me to the institutes and centers of study in Washington, D.C., and developed my ability to write succinctly, clearly, and professionally. I was able to continue thesis research while doing my internship and use the contacts I made to further explore topics that interest me. This included my ability to attend the South China Sea Conference at CSIS, which is the topic of my thesis.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

This experience cemented my plans to attend law school through my connection with coworkers and others working in Washington. Furthermore, it allowed me to explore international trade in-depth, and became the focal point of my personal statements for law school. I also had an offer to intern at the American Bar Association's Rule of Law initiative, but am glad I chose to pursue this experience, which offered a completely new and ultimately highly beneficial exposure for my career plans.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes! The people there are fantastic and it is a wonderful way to network in Washington. I'd be happy to talk to anyone else who is interested in applying.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program provided the necessary background for me to be successful at my internship. The high standards allowed me to perform at a high level while working alongside highly qualified students from Berkeley, Penn, Smith College, GW, and others. My writing skills had been honed by my involvement in the PFP and my exposure to various topics through PFP lunches and other events gave me an advantage in general knowledge or my ability to quickly pick up on new topics.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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