Think Tank & Civil Societies Program
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Adam Banks

Major: International Politics
Hometown: Reading, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I reached out to a career adviser to help me find positions I may have been interested in within think tanks doing international policy research. One of the recommended think tanks had a internship application submission date that had passed, but I noticed this program was an affiliate with the think tank. From there, I found more information on the program's site and after applying was accepted.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The program of interns was split into teams based on regions of interest. I was interested in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) and was placed on this team for data research. On the MENA data collection team, I was given a subsection of the MENA region, mainly Turkey and the UAE, and was tasked with updating the think tank database with new information about think tanks in these regions. I was also placed on a research team that analyzed the annual report produced by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at Penn and presented on global trends in think tanks. One example of one of these trends would be comparing the amount of new think tanks in a region such as Asia to the rate of rise in the United States and what factors have caused these rates. Finally, I was placed as a project lead for the website team. A few months before beginning my internship the website for the program had been hacked and completely taken down. My team rebuilt the website from scratch and I continue to work remotely as an intern managing the website on a daily basis. This site can be found at

How did this experience impact you academically?

At a very literal level, this course was part of my capstone requirements for my Masters in International Affairs that I am working on as an IUG student. In that respect I was fortunate to have a high quality internship that I could really take a lot from. Beyond school requirement credit, this internship gave me experience in working in data analysis and research and showed me beneficial ways to aggregate all of this into one package. This internship also showed me great ways to excel in a work atmosphere by going above and beyond what is asked to try and make a product better than originally planned.

Beyond school requirement credit, this internship gave me experience in working in data analysis and research and showed me beneficial ways to aggregate all of this into one package. 

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

Going in to this internship, I did not know much about think tanks at all. Now, I believe that this is a career path that I may be very interested in pursuing. I was informed about some programs within think tanks that contract workers for 2-3 years at a time. I currently plan to go to law school in the future, but want to get some work experience under my belt beforehand. I believe this internship has put me in a great position to get a shorter-term job at a research organization such as a think tank which would give me perfect timing to gain experience and have it end just in time to go back to school. This internship also taught me that I am interested in other fields than my current concentrations and has encouraged me to spread my course load to explore these new interests.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would definitely reccomend this internship to other Liberal Arts students. On top of the great research experience and professional work I have to show future employers, the program was tailored to help interns get an idea of what they want to do with their future careers. The director of the program works right beside the student interns and everyone's end product reflects the work they put in, so you really have a chance to shine if you put the effort in.


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