As any government professional will tell you, the best way for a student to get working experience is through an internship.
Senior Steve Kane ('07) took advantage of this unique opportunity with the U.S. State Department the summer before his junior year. After taking a year off between high school and college to play on the professional tennis circuit, Steve Kane enrolled as a freshman at William and Mary. His experiences traveling throughout North America and the West Indies while playing tennis helped him decide to major in International Relations.
Taking particular courses and working with specific professors in the International Relations program convinced Steve that he might like to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service, so he decided to apply for an internship with the State Department. "Ambassador Fritz was a really big help," says Steve. "He looked over my statement of interest and offered suggestions." Ambassador Fritz was formerly the U.S. ambassador to both Sudan and Ghana and is now a professor at William and Mary. He often helps students make contacts within the State Department and offers advice to students through one-on-one meetings in his office.
Steve obtained an internship with the in the State Department's Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. His duties included analyzing data to identify possible individuals or organizations that siphon funds to terrorist groups. "I would draft cables and send them around the office for others to sign off on them. Then, they would be forwarded to the U.N. so that assets could be seized." During his internship, Steve met with department leaders and learned first-hand what operations within the State Department were like on a day-to-day basis. "Theories of decision-making and U.S. foreign policy are great, but most books and articles we read in class don't completely capture how things get done within a big bureaucracy. I was very grateful to have this opportunity."
"A lot of the history courses I took at William and Mary were really helpful," says Steve. "You have to know what was going on in the past to know what's going on now. My history courses definitely shaped my perspective on international relations."
In his International Security course in the Government Department, Steve was able to use his internship as the basis for a research paper on terrorist financing. "You'll never understand the big picture of what's going on in the government until you observe it first-hand. But in order to make the most of those opportunities, you need to have the right skills and substantive knowledge. William and Mary provided me with a great foundation so that I could really take advantage of my internship."
Beginning his senior year at William and Mary, Steve helped complete research on Project Civil Strife, an NSF funded project led by Professor Steve Shellman that has constructed a database of government, rebel, terrorist, and other dissident actions such as bombings, kidnappings, armed battles, and negotiations. Professor Shellman said that "Steve impressed me so much in my introductory IR course that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have him work on my project. On the job, Steve learned a lot about Pakistani militancy and the groups committing terrorist acts, but he also learned about data collection, data management, and about statistical analyses, something often lacking in typical coursework." The research he conducted on Project Civil Strife helped Steve to develop a deep understanding of Pakistan as well as a unique skill set.
In addition to being a world class tennis player, a concert violinist, a researcher on an NSF project, a public servant helping to root out terrorist groups and an all-around nice guy, Steve Kane has compiled a jaw dropping 3.95 GPA while a student at William and Mary.
According to Professor Rani Mullen, who taught Steve in her course on Politics in Developing Countries, "Steve is the kind of student every faculty member loves to have in their class. He not only was a good student who did the readings and participated in class, but he also asked me the kinds of questions that made me stop and think about the materials covered -- leading me to reflect on issues in a new light."