Analyzing China and Russia from Minneapolis
Connor McPartland, MPP 2018
Who did you intern with?
I interned with the Hudson Institute’s Center for Political-Military Analysis. The Hudson Institute is a nonpartisan think tank located in Washington DC, but my internship was a distance internship, so I worked remotely from Minneapolis. I found out about the internship from Chris Kruckenberg, an alumnus who did the same internship during his time at Humphrey.
Tell us about your internship.
My internship experience was a bit different from others in that it was a distance internship. I would receive assignments via email and then conduct research on various topics and compile notes documents with covering memos or longer papers, depending on the assignment. My supervisor, Dr. Richard Weitz, specializes in Russia and Eurasia, so most of my assignments dealt with military and political developments in Russia and China such as describing Russian and Chinese military exercises, their respective stances on North Korea, the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, and possibilities for cooperation between China, Russia, and the United States on nuclear issues. I also assisted in editing documents published by the Institute and helping Dr. Weitz prepare for interviews.
What in particular made the internship rewarding?
My internship gave me the opportunity to explore a lot of topics that I otherwise would not have been able to learn about. I really enjoy learning about the nitty-gritty of defense policy, and my projects really let me delve deep into these topics--down to what helicopters were used at a particular exercise or how many days it would take certain units to deploy in a crisis situation. It was also rewarding to know that things I’ve written or researched would be used in papers or articles published by Hudson and then read by policymakers at high levels.
How will this internship shape your completion of studies at the Humphrey School?
This internship has greatly expanded my knowledge base on a number of issues that will help me in my courses and hopefully capstone project. Humphrey has limited opportunities to study foreign defense related topics in such detail, so my internship in some ways served as an extra class that supplements my courses at Humphrey. The internship experience also expanded my geographic area of interest. Before the internship I was mostly interested in European defense and NATO policy, but after researching Russian and Chinese activity in Central Asia, that region has opened up to me as an incredibly interesting and dynamic arena of Great Power rivalry.
How do you see this experience impacting your plan to advance the common good after graduation?
Interning with Hudson over the summer gave me a good glimpse into what working at a research institution would be like. My experience, due to being a distance internship, is probably not as comprehensive as a site internship would have been, but it nevertheless showed me what kind of work is available and gave me a general idea of the industry culture. I would definitely pursue a job with an institution like Hudson after graduation to continue working on topics similar to what I worked on over the summer.
(Photo: Tactical exercises of Russian radiological, chemical and biological troops. © Vitaly Kuzmin)