Interning at the Council on Foreign Relations

By Hanaa’ Tameez

As a student-journalist, I find that it’s easy to get caught up in the news and events on campus. Whether I was working on a story for class or for the campus paper, those experiences have been incredibly valuable stepping-stones, which made interning at the Council on Foreign Relations such a humbling opportunity.

The Council on Foreign Relations has established itself as a leader in the analysis of international news and affairs. Not only does the Council publish Foreign Affairs magazine, but it also has the CFR.org news team, which publishes its own content on a variety of issues on a daily basis.

Working for CFR.org is different from working for a traditional news organization. The bustle and noise of a newsroom is missing, and the constant pressure to break news is nowhere to be found. CFR’s think-tank culture takes a more informative approach to its news. Rather than rushing to be first with a story, the writers and producers structure their content to put a news event in context. They explain to their audience why something is happening, why it’s important and what it will mean in the future.

During my time at CFR, I was very involved in the production and post-production of different projects, all of which taught me so much about foreign policy. From my first day, I was always working on something to help out the news team. Whether it was interview transcriptions, research for the weekly podcast, “The World Next Week,” or photo research for the “Three Things” video series, I was always learning something new about the world around me. It brought stories that seemed so far away much closer to home.

Researching photos for an upcoming interactive project was one of my favorite experiences at CFR. This long-term assignment required me to go through several photo sources to find one photo that best summed up each of the 30 points on a timeline. This taught me the value of context and to think about how photos can change or misconstrue the point if not chosen carefully. The multimedia skills I learned in the classroom were especially helpful because I had a better understanding of what the photographers were trying to portray.

I landed at CFR by chance. I originally planned to apply for the fall semester of my senior year as many of my fellow journalism students had done before me. In the middle of my junior year, I didn’t think I had the experience or the skills that would be required at such a prestigious institution. I was lucky that my editors saw potential in me to grow, learn and adapt to a new environment. This led me to see that same potential in myself and for that I will always be grateful.

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