For more than 30 years, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), a major tax-exempt, nonprofit, and nonpartisan national research and information organization, has offered internships in Washington, D.C. in the fields of U.S., Latin American, and Canadian relations. These internships provide practical, entry level experience regarding a variety of political, economic, diplomatic, and trade issues. They also provide young scholars with excellent exposure to the policy making process. COHA seeks highly qualified undergraduate and graduate students as well as those who have already earned degrees. During its existence, nearly 1,000 successful candidates have interned in COHA’s Washington office.
COHA internships, which are available throughout the year, are entirely voluntary and are highly competitive (with summer positions being the most sought after). Schedules for the 18-week internships (14 weeks for the summer internships) can be arranged to meet the individual’s needs, although full-time and full-term applicants are given preference in the selection process. Interns play an integral role in COHA’s activities, which include the following: issuing statements and providing commentary to the print and electronic media; submitting articles on hemispheric issues to regional and national media; monitoring human rights and press freedom violations; promoting constructive U.S. policy initiatives; formulating viable alternatives that seek a diplomatic rather than a military solution to disputes; attending briefings by visiting Latin American dignitaries; and surveying legislation focused on social justice and the expansion of authentic democratic institutions.
Intern candidates should have some knowledge and/or interest in U.S.-Latin American affairs or international relations and should display impressive research and writing skills. Proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese is desired, though experience in journalism, English, or one of the social sciences may be substituted for the normal background requirements. Ideal internship candidates should be highly motivated and will be expected to show initiative and a capacity for innovation.
COHA’s downtown Washington office is located in the prestigious Dupont Circle area, a fast-paced and highly professional yet congenial area. Former interns have had their by-lined work published in various COHA publications as well as in the Congressional Record and the opinion pages of newspapers across the world including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Times, and many others (see our online citation page for examples). COHA internships are highly respected by the Washington policy-making community for their rigor and valuable learning experience. Former COHA interns have gained prominent positions in journalism, the Foreign Service, and congressional offices as well as admittance to some of the most prestigious professional schools in the country.
Please send COHA a completed internship application form, cover letter, resume, and a brief writing sample (two pages). In your cover letter, make sure that you explain why you are interested in interning for COHA and how you would contribute to the organization. Also arrange for an official or unofficial transcript (photocopies are acceptable) and two letters of recommendation to be mailed to our office. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but positions tend to be filled quickly; it is advised that you apply several months prior to your desired starting date. Applications may be addressed to our Intern Coordinator and sent via:
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
1250 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 1C
Washington, D.C. 20036
Fax: (202) 223-4979
Positions and Responsibilities
COHA accepts a number of interns each semester (Summer, Fall, and Spring). All interns are Research Associates, and thus spend much of their time researching and writing articles. Each intern is also expected to take on an administrative role along with their responsibilities as research associates. The administrative roles are somewhat fluid in order to meet the needs of the office. Below is a description of all the positions; keep them in mind as you write your application and be prepared to explain your ability to carry out various roles in an interview.
Research Associate – As Research Associates, interns will be writing articles for COHA’s highly regarded publication, the Washington Report on the Hemisphere (WRH); composing Opinion-Editorials and letters to the editor for publication in major national and international news media; performing personal interviews with Washington officials; attending Congressional hearings, legislative seminars, and various events on topics relevant to COHA’s work; and assisting in office administration tasks such as maintaining subscription lists.
Office Manager – This person checks the email and answers the main phone. The office manager coordinates the day-to-day affairs of the COHA office, schedules and manages staff meetings, and organizes guest speaker visits.
Intern Coordinator – The Intern Coordinator is integral to the continual recruitment of new interns for the following semester. He or she plans and manages recruitment and selection of staff, conducts new employee orientation, and organizes paperwork for current interns.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – The Chief Financial Officer develops, coordinates, and evaluates the financial program and supporting information systems of COHA. His or her duties will include budgeting, bookkeeping, tax planning, banking, and managing financial office operations.
Mailing List Manager – This person ensures that the mailing list is updated and that those who want to unsubscribe are erased from our list.
Promoter – These three (or so) individuals are in charge of managing COHA’s online publications, which include Letters to the Editor, Research Articles, Press Releases, News Analyses, and Opinion Editorials. The promoters help the editing process by keeping up to date with articles that are currently being written and ensuring that writers adhere to their deadlines.
Washington Report on the Hemisphere (WRH) Manager – The manager is in charge of putting together and editing the WRH, which is meant to go out every other friday. This person is in charge of finding the right articles to go in the WRH. He or she will work together with the subscriptions manager in making sure that everyone who subscribes receives the publication.
WRH Subscriptions Manager – The Subscriptions Manager corresponds with subscribers to make sure their information is current.
Extramural Coordinator – This individual is in charge with keeping in touch with people who write and submit articles for COHA (often Senior Research Fellows) from outside of the office.
Fundraising/Grant Committee – This committee conducts research on funding opportunities, sets deadlines for upcoming proposals, and reaches out to potential financial contributors to COHA.
Website Manager – This person must be one of the strong editors/writers in the office because he or she will be responsible for doing the final proofread of all content posted on the website. This person also manages the organization’s technical apparati, helps people with computer problems, and maintains the website.
COHA Wire Manager – This person is in charge of updating and managing the COHA Wire, which is used to coordinate office logistics between staff members.
Telecommuter Manager – The telecommuter manager keeps track of interns who are working outside of the COHA office each day.
Media Relations Team – The Media Relations Team is responsible for creating and maintaing contact with journalists, radio hosts, and other members of the press. These relationships that COHA establishes with the press are vital to increasing our visibility as a premier expert on Latin America. We accomplish this by inviting individuals and organizations to receive information from COHA and reaching out to these contacts to encourage citations, quotations, and interviews. On a daily basis, members of the Media Relations Team will add names and contact information to our media mailing list, call reporters to inform them of COHA’s recent publications and research, and manage interview requests for COHA staff. This job is ideal for interns with journalistic experience or anyone looking to make connections in the field.
Social Media Manager – This intern is in charge of posting on COHA’s Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Tumblr, etc.