My Summer at the Organization of American States

Michael Nolan, COL ’24, Philadelphia, PA

This summer, I interned at the Organization of American States, in the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism. The Organization of American States is the oldest currently active international organization in the Americas and was also preceded by the Pan-American Union, which was directed by Penn alumnus Leo Stanton Rowe from 1920 to 1946. As the OAS is a purely diplomatic international organization, I was primarily focused on supporting international cooperation in combatting terrorism.

My work at the OAS was extremely varied, as CICTE consists of 11 different programs encompassing cybersecurity, maritime security, violent extremism, and other fields. I was frequently jumping onto new projects, requiring a constant process of learning to keep up. While I can’t talk about everything I worked on, I think one of the most rewarding projects I worked on was a department-wide weekly newsletter that I created. I would frequently receive thanks from my colleagues for highlighting stories that would have otherwise been missed. It also served as a great excuse to work on my media literacy and writing skills, and even after the end of my internship, I find myself tracking stories that I began writing about several weeks ago in those newsletters.

Exposure to a real, albeit virtual, workplace offered me many more opportunities to further improve my hard and soft skills alike. I’ve certainly never worked on so many spreadsheets before! Building up muscle memory with programs like Excel and Outlook has been invaluable.

One of the best parts of the internship program at the OAS is the interns themselves. OAS interns are an extremely diverse group, coming from every corner of the Americas. In our weekly program meetings, we spoke at length about our different workplaces, academic backgrounds, cultures, and much more. I found it a particularly good opportunity to continue developing my Spanish skills, which I also used heavily to translate documents for CICTE staff members; I created many PowerPoints, schedules, agendas, and other kinds of documents in both English and Spanish.

I have met so many incredible and intelligent people through this opportunity. Every member of the staff at CICTE is a treasure trove of information, and I only wish I had more time to pick their brains. They were also incredibly supportive, helping me through a difficult but rewarding summer. Through our weekly internship meetings, we also got regular interaction with leaders within the OAS and other international organizations like the World Bank.

In conclusion, I wish I didn’t have to go. However, I am very excited to bring what I’ve learned back to other students in the Penn Model OAS program, through which I first learned about the OAS.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here

By Career Services
Career Services