Think Tank Researcher-in-Training

Writing about Latin America and living in our nation's capital.

Building a Network

One of the awesome things about COHA (but what can also be a challenge, at times), is that you have to rely on your fellow interns in order to get anything accomplished. While it is indeed a blessing and a curse to have to rely on so many people in order to get your articles researched and properly edited, one key way I’ve found to speed up the process is by taking it upon myself to build relationships with my fellow interns. That way, I can figure out whose writing and editing style is most similar to mine, and make sure I send my pieces to them for peer edits, so that someone who’s familiar with my work is the one editing my pieces. Also, it helps to build personal relationships with your coworkers. That way, they’ll be more inclined to help you out with editing, especially when you’re in a pinch and need to get a piece in by a certain deadline.

After you’ve sent your piece through two rounds of peer edits, you’re supposed to send your piece to one of COHA’s three Senior Research Fellows for edits. Senior Research Fellows are either professors or experts in the field, who are passionate about COHA’s mission, and have volunteered their time and expertise to help edit and provide information to Research Associates working at COHA. Each Senior Research Fellow has his own area of expertise, from militaries and government structures to the education system in El Salvador, and while they’re definitely a huge help in the editing process, they’re even more valuable when it comes to coming up with a research topic, or when you’re stuck in the middle of research. They have so much detailed knowledge about Latin America, and making the effort to talk with them and utilize them as a resource is something I would stress is a good idea for any COHA intern to do.

Finally, maintaining a professional yet friendly relationship with Mr. Birns, the director, is very important. He’s the final person to edit every single one of the articles that COHA publishes, and he is extremely knowledgeable about Latin America. His wealth of information is like a fact-checker in human form, and having him as a resource is invaluable. However, he likes to challenge ideological assertions that interns make, so maintaining a good relationship with him is helpful. He’ll be more likely to hear you out when you’re explaining your point of view if he respects the work you do in the office.

Building a network within the workplace is extremely important, and nowhere is that more obvious than at a place like COHA. Hopefully my experiences here will help me in future workplace environments.

Hasta la próxima,


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