The Heritage Foundation
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Ian Button

Paterno Fellow
Majors: Finance and German
Minors: International Business and International Studies
Hometown: Bellefonte, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I discovered this internship through a previous job at the U.S. Army War College. My then-supervisor invited me to go along with him on a trip to the Heritage Foundation for a presentation on China. The trip left an impression, and I applied in the spring.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I worked in the Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for foreign policy and national security, focusing specifically on defense-related issues. Heritage offered me the opportunity to work on the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, one of its signature products. In doing so, I researched the status of Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) and attended congressional hearings on defense acquisition-related matters. I was also encouraged to write op-eds on military topics, especially those related to the Coast Guard and Navy. Over the course of my time at Heritage, I wrote four such op-eds for publishing on the Daily Signal.

"This experience reinforced my desire to develop critical thinking and analytical skills."

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience reinforced my desire to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. I often found that I needed to write concise, timely pieces for publication while operating under a deadline. To produce products of sufficient quality, it was imperative that I hone my ability to sift through large volumes of information. Moreover, I spent significant portions of my time researching my thesis topic: terrorism finance with respect to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

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

I aspire to be an officer in the United States Air Force. As such, this internship was tremendously helpful in preparing myself for a military environment. Many of my supervisors are either current or retired members of the nation's armed forces. They were able to offer mentorship and guidance to me and to other aspiring officer candidates. I also had the opportunity to familiarize myself with ongoing issues of concern to the military, namely defense acquisition programs and grand strategy.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

The Heritage Foundation's internship program is absolutely worth considering. Not only is it one of the only paid internships in Washington, DC, but it also provides interns with opportunities to work on real, meaningful projects. Heritage invests in its interns, setting them up with mentors and instructing them during First Principles luncheons with some of the think tank's best and brightest minds.

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