As a think tank, COHA relies heavily on every single person working for the organization, in order to continuously produce quality research that government officials and other professionals and academics can call upon when looking for reliable information about Latin America. While our director, Larry Birns, is the driving force behind the ideology of COHA, the interns often help keep the think tank afloat.
Every intern, in addition to being a research fellow that writes articles that will eventually be published either on the coha.org website or in the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, is also given administrative duties to help maintain the framework through which we disseminate our research. While we don’t get paid for the extra help we do around the office, fortunately my grant from the Career Center helps so that I can live pretty comfortably in the city without having to worry about getting paid while on the job. Some people help with the peer editing process on the articles, while others handle administrative tasks, as per their strengths and preferences.
Personally, I handle quite a few things around the office. I have worked on the grant writing and fundraising committee, writing letters of inquiry to foundations which might be interested in giving COHA grants. I have also worked as an office manager, managing the daily communication with outside contacts, keeping the office running smoothly, answering phone calls, setting up interviews, and helping to facilitate the constant flow of articles that are in different stages of the editing process. This very demanding role has taught me much in the way of both leadership skills and collaboration. Mr. Birns relies on the administration to work quickly and efficiently, and while the added pressure doesn’t make the office environment an especially tranquil one, knowing that you are a trusted and vital member of an organization that you are excited about working for gives the motivation to continue to work hard throughout the day.
While far from glamorous, the behind-the-scenes side of a think tank (or at least our think tank) is what allows us to keep working, and hopefully affecting the world, every day. Knowing this is what makes me excited to help lead our little non-profit as it pursues its goals of promoting the values of human rights and cooperative U.S.-Latin American relations.
Hasta la próxima,