Notes from the Field: Julia Decerega '18

Julia Decerega '18 interned at the Brazil Institute within the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for the 2017 winter term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

Thanks to a gracious grant from the Rockefeller Center, I was able to spend my winter term of 2017 in Washington, D.C. interning at the Brazil Institute within the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. The Wilson Center is the official memorial to President Wilson and one of the most highly ranked think tanks in the U.S. There were many positive aspects of my internship. As a staff intern, I was responsible for assisting the Brazil Institute staff with various research projects, publications, event planning, and daily institute tasks. I was able to be part of projects from start to finish, sit in on meetings with experts and government officials, and use my own knowledge to pitch ideas and contribute to new initiatives. Some of the topics I focused on during my internship include agriculture, trade, technology, rule of law, as well as Brazil – U.S. relations in general. The research skills I was able to develop were another positive part of my internship. I was given various research topics I was unfamiliar with, and had to summarize information I found to brief my supervisors. Eventually, my research helped shape publications and briefings of government officials and business leaders, which I believe is an invaluable skill to have gained.

From the moment I stepped into the office, they were helpful, supportive, and caring, which allowed me to feel comfortable and confident about my work from the beginning. Both the director and the program associate had open-door policies, and were always available to answer any questions I had. This allowed me to develop a very good relationship with them, which made my work more efficient and to the point. Their interest in making sure I was thriving not only at work but also in D.C. in general made my term even more rewarding. Another positive part of my internship was the ability to meet scholars and experts in the fields of international relations, trade, economics, Latin America, among others. This allowed me not only to gain valuable knowledge about these subjects but also get to know people who may help me in the future when I enter the professional world.

At the Brazil Institute, I was able to gain a better understanding of the advising role think tanks play not only for government officials, but also for members of the private sector. This means that in most international relations careers, a basic understanding of economics and business is crucial. Therefore, this internship has shown me the importance of taking economics and business classes, and even exploring other quantitative and data-analysis fields. This internship has also shown me that it can be beneficial to specialize in an area or a particular field, in my case, Latin America. My experience at the Brazil Institute has sparked my curiosity about private opportunities related to policy, especially ones that revolve around research and political risk. My time at the Wilson Center definitely reinforced my wish to be in Washington, D.C. after graduation, and to continue to pursue a career in policy with a focus on Latin America.