By Kyra Baffo

What do you envision when you dream of your ideal workplace? A cool office space? Vending machines? Or bean bag chairs? What about a majestic 20th century townhouse? Well for those lucky enough to obtain employment at the Council on Foreign Relations, their workplace resembles an elegant ballroom with beautiful marble floors and historic furnishings. The Council on Foreign Relations is nestled on East 68th Street, just blocks away from Central Park and appears rather inconspicuous from the outside.

If you are unfamiliar with the organization’s history, CFR is a nonpartisan membership based foreign affairs think tank founded after the failings of any substantial peace dealings falling World War I. The founders wanted to create a platform for the discussion and inquiry in global relations. You are immediately greeted by security upon entrance and swept away into Peterson Hall, a spacious conference room featuring copies of the latest Foreign Affairs magazine, and water glasses. We felt like royalty. We met with Adam Segal, the Ira. A Lipman Chair in Emerging Technologies and National Security and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Program at the Council. Segal also happens to be a renowned expert on China, and spent most of his discussion with us highlighting the increased tensions and growing interdependence of China and the U.S. He covered everything from ‘good’ hacking vs. ‘bad’ hacking, trade, and cyber security issues.

My greatest takeaways from Segal were in the realm of the evolving relationship between the U.S and China. As China becomes an increasingly dominant economic player in the world, the U.S will be in the best position to combat this by investing in our own growth- As opposed to slapping tariffs on China and being skeptical towards Chinese students studying in America. His argument speaks volumes within the current political climate we live in, and honestly makes a lot of sense. Segal underscored an important talking point for a number of law makers and advocates who believe that America’s best defense resides in our own human capital and continued innovation.

Following Segal’s presentation, we were given additional information on internship opportunities at CFR. For those of you who are interested in potential internships with the organization, here are the biggest takeaways: Internships are based in either New York City or Washington D.C (Unfortunately for us UCLA students, these internships are offered on a semester basis), they are unpaid, and require (16-20 hours) per week of commitment. For those from diverse backgrounds CFR offers the Robina Franklin Williams internship program which pays at an hourly rate.

The perks of interning with them are hard to overstate; professional development and networking opportunities, experience working on critical policy issues at one of the most prestigious foreign affairs think tanks in the world! It was clear by the end of our excursion most students in our program had decided that they could imagine a future career at this premier organization. CFR was definitely one of my favorite excursions on the program.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019.