Junior Amna Ahmed Learns What it Really Means to Work at a Think Tank

As a rising third-year student, Amna Ahmed worked remotely over the summer as a policy analysis intern for The Lugar Center in Washington, D.C. In their first project, regarding global food security, they assisted the center by updating an index for those interested in the topic to research and learn more.

“I gathered roughly 15-20 academic articles for three of the subtopics: bioengineering, land tenure, and food security in conflict zones,” they said. “This allowed me to gain a depth of knowledge and angles to analyze global food systems.”

Amna is a junior majoring in International Studies, Political Science, and Economics with an individualized minor in the Urdu language. They grew up in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and decided to come to IU after receiving the Herman B. Wells scholarship. Outside of academics, they are president of the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education student advisory board, Director of Academic Affairs for IU Student Government, a member of the Hamilton Lugar School Student Advisory board, and a non-profit consultant for 180 Degree consulting.

In their second project, The Bipartisan Index, Amna gathered the ages of all members in the 116th congress, organized the data, and ran an analysis. This culminated in an op-ed on how bipartisanship is growing among younger representatives.

“I wrote the first draft of the op-ed and the Center is currently in the process of getting the Millennial Action Project to co-author my op-ed so they can release it in a joint press release,” Amna said.

How did this experience impact you personally and professionally?
“I learned what it actually means to do research and work at a think tank. It is clear that think tanks are equally involved in policymaking as capitol hill and I learned how to organize my work week and efficiently accomplish teamwork virtually.”

What were some of the most rewarding parts of this experience?
“I learned that this industry is often slow-moving and quite dry. It is not as exciting as the buzz of D.C. and ultimately I learned that while I am deeply passionate about these issues, I highly value a fast-paced work environment with people closer to my age rather than 60-year-old experts.”

What do you wish you would have known before you started this position? Or what would you tell others before they start an internship?
“I had a very clear understanding with my internship leader so I was not shocked by anything that came. I would say that an intern should be ready to pick up any slack that the actual paid members create, and be ready to do new things that will make you grow (like writing an op-ed).”

Amna was a summer 2020 internship scholarship recipient. Learn more about internship scholarships offered at the Walter Center.

By Geoffrey Heck
Geoffrey Heck Peer Coach Geoffrey Heck