William and Mary Law School

Working for IDEA

A couple of people have asked why I have yet to mention anything about my internship. First, I did just get here. I've only been working for a week and a half, and I wanted to have something to say. Second, as will likely be the case for any job I have from now until forever, I signed an NDA. I am therefore highly reluctant to disclose...anything. As many friends know, however, I have a gift for being vague. That gift is about to come in very handy.

International IDEA is a intergovernmental organization (info in the "About" section to the left). The Hague office is fairly new and focuses on the constitution building process in countries. They research and advise and produce tools to assist countries in their constitution building processes. So far this summer, my work has two main parts. The first part has to do with one of IDEA's websites, constitutionnet.org. One of the newer features of the site is the history and breakdown of the major aspects of the constitutions of each country. I have been given rough drafts to proofread and fact check, asked to update the profiles for countries that have recently had some sort of change in their constitution, and tasked with adding profiles for countries that aren't up yet. (So if you are from a country I'm looking at that is making my research difficult, I may become vicariously angry at you at some point this summer). The second part involves researching for some of the projects the office is working on. Right now I'm looking into the aftermath of the Arab Spring. In short, this summer I am learing about the history and governments of any country I'm assigned. I get to sit at a computer and pour through news articles and history sites and constitutional text all day!! Then for the projects, I'm doing a bit of analysis that will eventually become a paper. Some of the background reading involved going over regression models that analysts have made about constitution building in certain regions, and I was able read the tables and understand them! I absolutely love this job!

The office is rather small. There are 6 staff members, all from different countries (ironically, none from The Netherlands) and all international government...enthusiats (it sounds better than nerds). We all enjoy talking about the different political developments going on around the world and discussing the impacts they might have and the histories that might have led to them. Elliot, for example, is Scottish, so when we all went to dinner the other night, I was able to learn more about the arguements for and against the Scottish referendum happening in a few months. Kimana is from Spain, so we also discussed the independence issue in Catalan. It's so much fun for me. I also get to ask lots of questions, and they've been excited to answer. For instance, as an American, although I understand the basics of the parliamentary system and constitutional monarchies, there are still certain aspects that are strange to me. Elliot used to teach, so he's more than willing to educate me. I now have a small collection of books and articles to assist me in my understanding. Yay!!

As many of you know, I tend to get shy and awkward in new situations (those who have known me for a while tend to forget my initial awkwarness), but I think I'm settling in well. A few of the profiles I proofed have already gone on the website, and I got good feedback from my initial report on the other project.

Because of my note this year and the nature of my internship last summer, most of my research for the past year has been about human trafficking. It's an important topic and an issue I'm very passionate about, but you don't necessarily come away from that kind of research with happy feelings. It's great to have a new topic to research that still tracks with my interests and goals!

Hopefully this has satisfied your curiousity regarding my work this summer. Ciao! :)