My name is Nicolas. I am from Colombia and I completed a six-month internship in Washington, D.C. at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies.
My internship experience in Washington, D.C. was very interesting and enriching, considering that I was able to observe one of the most controversial political campaigns. As a student of International Relations, the political campaign helped me to better understand the election process to choose a U.S. President, which is very complicated. The U.S. electoral system was built under two pillars - the popular vote and the electoral college - and it was something I studied at my University, but I never had the chance to experience it.
Moreover, the internship itself created opportunities to meet new people and improve my skills as a political and security analyst. Working with the Department of Defense deepened my understandings of the U.S. Defense institutional structure and the challenges my region, Latin America, faces on a daily basis in overcoming threats such as transnational organized crime and cyber-terrorism. I'll always remember the Pentagon tour that I had the chance to do. It was incredible to get inside in one of the most protected buildings in U.S. where the U.S. Department of Defense is located. While I was walking through the hallways I couldn’t stop thinking about all the secrets and history this building has.
Another amazing moment from my time in U.S. was when I was chosen by the U.S. State Department to be part of the I-LEAD (Intern-Leadership and Development) program in Seattle. The program was only one week; however, working and sharing almost 24 hours with interns from 28 different nationalities was amazing. The program not only gave me friends but also new skills as a team leader and as a team player.
My experience in the United States was important for my personal and professional development. I opened my eyes to new horizons that I had not considered before. It pushed me to keep looking forward to new experiences. I alway remember my father’s quote, “There are three things in life that you can’t get back: the word said, the arrow thrown, and the opportunities missed.” I am glad I did not miss this opportunity!