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Internship with Council on Foreign Relations Meetings Department
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Patrick Boynton
Paterno Fellow
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA

Major(s): International Politics and Geography
Minor(s): French and Middle Eastern Studies

How did you learn about this opportunity?

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) website maintains a listing of internship openings. I applied, interviewed, and was accepted.

“Interning at the Council on Foreign Relations brought my academics to life. Working at CFR, I was fortunate to be able to network with a variety of high-level individuals from government, media, and business.”

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My job was rewardingly practical. I was essentially an assistant to the Meetings Department and each day I started by walking from office to office, asking how I could help. From my first day on the job, I staffed events: checking attendees in at the door, handing out nametags, and working microphones during question-and-answer segments. I also sent invitation packages to speakers and Council members, compiled nominations for CFR’s annual book award, reviewed speaker suggestions, and proposed complementary panelists, among other tasks. I have already applied my experience directly to the student organizations I am involved with at Penn State, and I can talk about the concrete tasks I performed at CFR in future job interviews.

As an International Politics major, I fully expected to intern in Washington, D.C., having visited regularly with my school and family. However, I cannot overstate the value of interning for a think tank in New York. I discovered one of the world’s most important cities and its neighborhoods: the Upper East Side, the Village, Brooklyn, the Financial District. I met individuals in a range of fields outside politics. I attended film screenings, networked with alumni, shared experiences with some of my oldest friends, and spent a memorable day canvassing for a mayoral candidate in the South Bronx.

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

Interning at CFR impressed upon me the importance of salary and career flexibility. I learned that UN staffers dislike being posted in New York because the cost of living exceeds their salaries. At the same time, I noticed that the most energetic and outgoing individuals at CFR had jumped from job to job and organization to organization. Rather than the government career and I had long envisioned, I am now looking into doing similar work through law or the private sector.

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