Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) with U.S. Army War College
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David Stack

Paterno Fellow
Majors: Economics, International Politics, Chinese
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I received an email from the Schreyer Honors College's Career Services department. It mentioned that the U.S. Army War College was accepting applications for internship positions.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My primary assignment was assisting my mentor, Dr. Michael Spangler, who is a thirty-four year veteran of the Foreign Service. I helped revise the curriculum of the class that he teaches about China at the Army War College and develop a new curriculum for a similar class to be offered in a distance-education format. Additional assignments included helping facilitate a retreat for high-level officials from the United Nations Department of Field Support and performing a review of the document “Guiding Principles of Stabilization and Reconstruction.” Furthermore, the Peacekeeping and Stability Operation Institute (PKSOI) organized frequent professional-development seminars for the intern cohort. This typically involved someone from inside or outside the organization talking about what they do and how they got there, and answering any questions we might have.

How did this experience impact you academically?

"I also learned a considerable amount about the inner workings of the United Nations, especially how it conducts its peacekeeping operations."

Helping design the curriculum for the course on China made it necessary for me to conduct a significant amount of research on Chinese history, culture, geography, politics, and economic development. I can honestly say that I knew a moderate amount about China before my internship, but coming out of this experience I know significantly more. Now, I can think more effectively about the U.S-China bilateral relationship. While working at PKSOI, I also learned a considerable amount about the inner workings of the United Nations, especially how it conducts its peacekeeping operations.

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

I’m not positive about what career path I want to pursue, but I do know that I want to work within the broad field of international affairs. One route that I am considering is working directly for the U.S. government, perhaps under the auspices of the Department of State or the Department of Defense. Another options that I am considering is working for a “think tank” like the Center for Strategic and International Studies or the Center for a New American Security. I am also thinking about working for a non-governmental organization engaged in overseas development work. Whichever route I take, my internship experience working directly with the U.S. military will be a helpful addition to my resume as I apply to organizations in all three of those categories for summer internships.

Would you recommend this experience to other liberal arts students?

Yes, particularly if they are interested in international affairs. This experience was a great way to do meaningful work in an interesting setting.

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