Miles Watkins, Class of 2012

Major: Economics major, IR certificate; Organization: Henry L. Stimson Center, Regional Voices Program; Location: Washington, DC

Miles Watkins, Class of 2012I've been spending this summer at the Stimson Center, an international relations and security think tank in Washington, DC. At this point in time, my program is working under a contract from the National Intelligence Council, assessing the future volatility of major river basins in the developing world, in light of increasing strain on and manipulation of water resources due to industrialization, irrigation, damming, and climate change. My job consists of researching these regions (so far I've looked at the Limpopo, Okavango, Zambezi, Indus, and Mekong) and preparing reports that summarize the main factors, interests, and institutions in play, and the possible flashpoints and conflict scenarios that could arise out of these. For example, the Indus will likely see newly-spurred dam development by upstream India, especially within and near Kashmir, which, despite the surprisingly strong bilateral coordination on water rights and management over the last 50 years, could potentially set off downstream Pakistan, which desperately relies on the river and its tributaries for irrigated agriculture.
My time at Stimson has been great. Not only are the staff and fellow interns extremely friendly, but the job itself has helped me to gain new insights into the DC policy-making world, which is certainly good to have under my belt. Speaking of belts, it's also quite a change to dress up every day -- something which I haven't had to do for any of my previous jobs -- and trudge to work through the city's sweltering mugginess. However, being here has also allowed me to attend talks and hearings at government agencies and other think tanks, through which I've learned a huge amount. Also, playing weekly company softball a couple hundred feet from the Washington Monument? Awesome.
On the whole, swimming in the pool of DC think tanks has been enlightening and interesting, if occasionally difficult to keep pace with. I would highly suggest it to anyone considering a future in policy work.