The PIPS Experience

PIPS has undoubtedly been the highlight of my William & Mary career. The program’s main strength is its unique blend of interactive classroom discussion with independent research. This combination creates a Harkness-style learning environment in which students collaborate closely on each other’s work but are ultimately responsible for their own projects. This type of hands-on education, in contrast to large and impersonal lectures, develops career-relevant skills such as project marketing, funding analysis, and work delegation (each fellow has an intern). Thus, although I learned a lot about my particular research topic, my main take-away from PIPS was learning how to handle criticism. Having to present my progress in front of a weekly “murder board” taught me how to amend my work with outside insight. At the same time, I also learned that not all advice should be implemented out of hand. In the end, I was the one that had to present in front of a policy audience so it was I, not my professors, who had to be satisfied with my finished project. This sense of responsibility and empowerment was liberating.

PIPS’ second key asset is its ability to draw in outside guests from the security field. In 2013-2014, these included members of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, a U.S. military think-tank; consultants from Booz Allen Hamilton; Sean Joyce, former Deputy Director of the FBI; and Theresa M. Whelan, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. These prominent and incredibly knowledgeable individuals gave the PIPS students a rare inside view into life in the security community. As a student, I’ve sometimes felt like I was trapped in the ivory tower of academia, far removed from the reality of actual security work. Thus, the opportunity to talk candidly to these individuals in a small group setting was an incredible experience.

Tyler Bembenek,
PIPS Fellow, 2013-2014
W&M Class of 2015


PIPS was both the reason I chose to attend the College of William & Mary and the most impactful experience I had during my four years there. The invaluable skills I developed as a PIPS fellow stand out as the most beneficial lessons of my undergraduate career. Indeed, in preparing myself to enter the professional world I find myself repeatedly drawing on my experience with PIPS. Practically, PIPS provided me with practice working in a group setting that I can apply to many environments out of college. The ability to effectively take and give constructive feedback as well as to efficiently yet respectfully manage one of my peers as I did my PIPS intern have proven widely applicable talents. I also cultivated an analytical proficiency that directly relates to the type of work I aspire to obtain after graduation. As a PIPS fellow, I acquired the ability to identify emerging challenges to U.S. security, develop fresh ideas for responding, and assess the practicability of the alternatives. I learned to craft my complex argument cogently and finally present it clearly and succinctly for a policy audience.

What I cannot emphasize enough is the incredible team through which this process occurs. The PIPS professors support the fellows and interns with an amount of attention and guidance unmatched on William & Mary's campus. Professors Oakes and Smith selflessly dropped everything to help me more times than I can remember. These sometimes-daily meetings expanded from facilitating the formation of my policy project to helping me shape my professional goals. In addition, twelve fellows and interns supply a surplus of brilliant minds to assist each student's intellectual growth. Most importantly, PIPS pushed me to maximize my potential as an undergraduate international relations scholar. Though I began my year with PIPS uncertain of my future, I left inspired and cognizant of my abilities.

Phoebe Benich
PIPS Fellow, 2013-2014
W&M Class of 2014


As a PIPS fellow, I developed expertise on my chosen subject of cryptocurrencies over the course of a year. The lessons I learned gaining that expertise, however, have been even more important than the specific knowledge from my white paper. PIPS taught me valuable skills through direct experience. I developed confidence in my abilities both to perform thorough research on a subject and present that research to an audience of policymakers. I left the program a clearer writer and a more careful editor. I gained contacts in the armed forces, the private sector, and civilian government—and learned to capitalize on those contacts as well. Most importantly, I developed lasting bonds with the PIPS fellows, interns, and directors.

Intense meetings and “murder boards,” hours (days) of individual work, long nights in Swem with the other fellows and interns—PIPS is even more than the sum of its parts. It's a carefully crafted experience that is unlike anything traditional coursework provides. PIPS has by far been the most rewarding experience of my academic career, and I will always cherish the skills and friendships I developed as a fellow.

Samuel Dunham
PIPS Fellow, 2013-2014
W&M Class of 2015


PIPS is the epitome of what college can be. You are able to work intimately with professors, professionals, and other students while taking lead from your own interests. For me, PIPS was a defining experience at William & Mary that I will forever remember and forever seek to replicate (likely without success due to its distinctiveness). It led to close relationships with professors and other students and prepared me for my post-graduate life better than any other single course or activity. I cannot sing the praises of PIPS enough. It was the most rewarding challenge I undertook at William & Mary.

Dylan Kolhoff
PIPS Fellow, 2013-2014
W&M Class of 2014


Being a member of the PIPS family was one of the most important and fulfilling experiences of my undergraduate career. I got involved with PIPS as a freshman intern and knew that I had to return as a fellow for my senior year. Being a PIPS fellow does not simply mean learning how to write a policy brief. The experience encompasses so much more than the final product. Under the guidance of Professors Oakes and Smith, I learned how to push my limits academically and intellectually. I learned how to think critically yet constructively about my own and others' work. I learned to accept that good work is often iterative and requires several versions of thinking and rethinking. I will carry the writing, research, analytical, and teamwork skills with me in all of my future endeavors. I highly recommend PIPS to any W&M student searching for a stimulating, formative, and, honestly, fun experience.

Grace Perkins
PIPS Fellow, 2013-2014
W&M Class of 2015


PIPS took me far beyond what can be taught in a classroom and has given me a skill set that will continue to benefit me as I prepare to graduate next year. Writing a policy brief taught me to be concise, as well as how to address a complex question in a few carefully worded sentences. As a result, the quality of work I turn in for my classes has noticeably improved. However, the skills I learned through PIPS apply to more than my academic work. Through my own research and the peer-review process, I learned to analyze a problem and answer it by asking the right questions and then evaluating the answers. I am now better prepared for tasks involving analysis at my internship and able to make insightful contributions to both team meetings and assignments.

Allison Baer 
PIPS Fellow, 2011-2012 
W&M Class of 2013


PIPS exemplifies the core strength of William & Mary in that it empowers undergraduates to translate their academic experiences into real-world results. With my particular project, I had the opportunity to interact with representatives from the Air Force, the aerospace industry, and Congress. In doing so, I and fellow PIPS students were able to demonstrate that undergraduates can and should make meaningful contributions to the policy-making community. The PIPS model of having a small group of highly dedicated faculty and students working closely together produces truly remarkable results. In pushing ourselves we help move crucial policy debates forward.

Peter Klicker
PIPS Fellow, 2011-2012
W&M Class of 2012


William & Mary's Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS) is unlike any other research program at the College; it encourages students to go beyond academia and apply skills developed in the classroom to current policy challenges. The program was extremely valuable to me because it not only pushed me to rapidly improve my analytic capability, but also taught me to interact with experts in the field of cybersecurity/international security. Throughout the year, I was able to consult with policy analysts, CEOs, and government employees to receive feedback on my policy proposal. The ability to successfully network within a security field is invaluable in any career and/or graduate research, as it ensures that international security research remains applicable and feasible for policymakers. Participating as a research fellow in PIPS gave me a close-up look at what a career in security policy would entail, and helped me narrow my interests as I conducted the extensive research necessary for the program. PIPS taught me how to apply a liberal arts education, which focuses on developing critical thinking and writing abilities, to relevant real-world issues.

Emily Pehrsson
PIPS Fellow, 2011-2012
PIPS Intern, 2010-2011
W&M Class of 2013


PIPS is by far the single experience at William & Mary that has most impacted my collegiate academic experience as well as my career prospects. PIPS and the two professors that created and run the program have taught me more about good writing and analytic thinking than in my toughest classes at William & Mary. Whenever underclassmen or classmates have asked me if they should apply for a PIPS internship or fellowship, my answer is an unequivocal "yes." They know that PIPS has been one of the most challenging and stressful pursuits of my college education for two years in a row, but it has been far more rewarding than a burden. After PIPS, I am confident that I am an excellent writer, and perhaps, an even better problem solver. 

The skills that PIPS has taught me - to find challenges that policymakers care about, to examine the implications of those challenges for U.S. security, and to evaluate multiple solutions to those challenges - have proven invaluable both in my classes at
William & Mary and in my summer work for the federal government. At the young age of 19, I am no area specialist; I am not fluent in any foreign languages, nor am I exceptionally well-traveled. However, PIPS has given me a head start for a successful career in foreign policy over many of my peers, because I have found that learning facts and studying phrasebooks is the easy part of working in international relations. PIPS's challenge to its fellows, to write and present a policy brief for an audience of real policymakers, as well as the constant support and feedback of Professors Smith and Oakes, have prepared me to write with the concision and clarity required in the foreign policy community and to be able to answer the numerous (and often unexpected) follow-up questions that a policymaker will inevitably ask. I am confident that I can dive into any topic and emerge with a worthwhile product, no matter how unfamiliar with that topic I may be at first. 

But my appreciation from PIPS goes beyond the short-term benefits it has brought my academic and professional career. I have loved international studies since before I even considered pursuing a career or major in the field. However, I have often felt frustrated in the course of my studies at the gap between issues examined in scholarship and practical concerns that states, including the United States, consider to be pertinent problems worth solving. The PIPS mantra - to connect the academic realm and the policy realm through undergraduate research - bridges this gap perfectly for me, the perennial pragmatist.

Katherine Mitchell
PIPS Fellow, 2011-2012
PIPS Intern, 2010-2011
W&M Class of 2013


I remember the end of PIPS much the way I imagine people remember boot camp, a sort of intellectual obstacle course. I remember being pulled out of bed at 2 AM to rehearse my presentation, or getting seven or eight emails a day from Amy and Dennis, asking for rewrites to different sections of my paper. But most of what I remember is the moment, just after we had all presented our work in DC, when everyone in the room was queuing up to talk to us, to ask questions and discuss our work. It was the realization that our work had caused people to think about things they would otherwise have ignored—that we had made a difference. I remember sitting in medical school interviews and watching the interviewer getting caught up in my idea and forgetting that this was an interview. 

I believe in my project, I believe that it could save lives. And I genuinely believe that, without Dennis and Amy's guidance and my intern's considerable work, without PIPS, it wouldn't exist at all.

Efrat Rosenzweig
PIPS Fellow, 2011-2012
W&M Class of 2012
University of Virginia Medical School, Class of 2016


PIPS was my first real research experience at the College. It is one thing to get an assignment from a professor and complete it satisfactorily, but wholly another to conceive of an original project on your own, struggle with it, then execute it over the course of a year. As a PIPS fellow you simultaneously fill roles of researcher, manager, promoter, and critic - for your own and others' work. My main weakness entering PIPS was editing because I have always been so attached to the whole process of writing. In formatting and paring down my policy brief I was forced to improve markedly, working under constraints comparable to what I know I will face in the "real world." The skills I cultivated during my time in PIPS will undoubtedly stay with me; I hope to have the opportunity to build a career on both thinking creatively and executing those ideas technically, just as I did through this program. Without PIPS, I would have never had the confidence to attempt an honors thesis, nor, in my belief, would I have been accepted to graduate school. The PIPS experience, for me, was as valuable as it was transformative. Without getting too sentimental, the personal and professional relationships that I gained throughout this whole process are irreplaceable—never before had I had the privilege to work with a group of such talented, intelligent, and inspiring students, faculty, and mentors. PIPS is a one-of-a-kind organization, and I am deeply thankful for my chance to be a part of it.

Bridget Carr
PIPS Fellow, 2010-2011
W&M Class of 2012
Security Studies Program, Georgetown University, Class of 2014


PIPS proved a very helpful capstone to my studies in International Relations at William & Mary. Through the project, I was able to explore the potential career path of policy-writing and learn the practical skills to pursue it. Thus, the PIPS project gave my purely academic studies a very practical application. Furthermore, I received invaluable academic and professional mentorship from two extremely high-quality professors, which made a lasting impact on my college career.


Eleanor Hansen
PIPS Fellow, 2010-2011 
W&M Class of 2011
English Instructor & Aid Worker (Peru, 2011-2012) 
Campus Outreach Intern: Reformed University Fellowship (Winthrop University)


PIPS was by far the most challenging and the most rewarding opportunity of my undergraduate career. Not only did PIPS present me with a deep insight into the policy-making process, it also pushed me to refine practical skills—such as using concise prose and effective time management—which I will carry with me for years to come. More importantly, this program challenged me to be my very best—to think more critically, to conduct more in-depth and precise research, and to take my passion for international security and use it in a way that can give back to society.

Lindsay Hundley
PIPS Fellow, 2010-2011
W&M Class of 2012


The PIPS program serves a vital purpose for students of international relations by enabling them to apply academic theory to examine current, real world problems. PIPS certainly provides direct and invaluable experience for anyone hoping to build a career related to policy analysis, but it also allows participants to hone writing, editing, and presentation skills that are essential in a wide variety of professions. I have found that no matter where my early career takes me, my PIPS experience has allowed me to develop the skills to succeed.

Robert Snyder
PIPS Fellow, 2010-2011
W&M Class of 2011


I can honestly say that PIPS was the single most important research experience in my academic career at William & Mary. I had become interested in international security the previous summer after an internship opportunity at NATO, and was looking for a way to continue to pursue this interest in an academic environment. I wasn’t sure if this would be possible, as most universities don’t have a well-developed international security program at the undergraduate level. Luckily, I stumbled upon PIPS. This program provided me with an invaluable opportunity to design and carry-out my own research initiative from start to finish. In doing so, I learned how to conduct interdisciplinary research across fields and between the policy and academic world, how to narrow down my research interests to focus on a specific, solvable policy question, and how to produce professional-quality research and presentations. 

Moreover, PIPS has played a key role in helping me define my future career goals. It was through this program that I was able to decide that I truly wanted to pursue a career in security and defense. Not only have I gained valuable research skills and writing experience, but I have also made connections with many individuals who work in a wide range of related areas, including not only academic security research but also the policy field, as well as consulting companies and other private-sector enterprises. I highly recommend PIPS to any and all students highly motivated by security and defense research – it will prove to be an amazing asset in both your academic life and future career development.

Julia Zamecnik
PIPS Fellow, 2010-2011
W&M Class of 2011
Fulbright Scholar


PIPS represents the epitome of what undergraduates should look for in research opportunities. As a freshman, I found myself doing cutting-edge, policy-relevant research while engaging with some of the best and brightest students in the school. More than simply discussing policy, PIPS taught me how to be a better researcher, presenter, and writer. Furthermore, it invigorated my interest, not only in international affairs and policy, but also in the policymaking process. 

The Project on International Peace and security has been an invaluable aspect of my undergraduate career, having a direct effect on the courses I’ve taken, the research I’ve performed, and, importantly, the jobs I’ve been offered. Thanks to PIPS, I’ve been able to do other invaluable research work on and off campus: before I was an upperclassman, I’d already presented a paper at a major conference abroad and studied at a foreign university. PIPS is more than just a research opportunity, it’s a program that prepares students to be the next generation of policymakers and researchers.

Benjamin Kenzer
PIPS Intern, 2010-2011
W&M Class of 2014


As a freshman at William & Mary, I had been told more times than I could count that hundreds of opportunities existed for freshmen and seniors alike. I suppose I never really believed it until I was selected as an intern for the Project on International Peace and Security at the end of my first semester. Participating in PIPS was without a doubt the most influential experience of my freshman year. 

PIPS prepared me for the next three years of W&M because my mentors forced me to "learn by doing." Instead of passively absorbing information about policy briefs, I had to find them myself and extract relevant information from hundreds of pages. I gained valuable academic and professional skills, including summarizing policy papers, editing my fellow's policy brief and presentation, working under deadlines, completing a semester-long project, and voicing my opinion at meetings, that have served me well in every class and school organization since. One would be hard-pressed to identify another on-campus opportunity where students have so much potential to grow. Professors Smith and Oakes pushed me to my limit so that I could realize my full capabilities. After working under a fellow for a semester, I wrote my own policy brief, a strategy that uses geo-mapping technology to increase transparency of the Nigerian government's oil revenue spending. Having interns write their own policy briefs prepares them immensely for a junior or senior year as a fellow, which demonstrates PIPS' longevity and potential. 

At the end of April, PIPS was more than another activity in which I was involved. Alongside nine other undergraduates, my fellow, Bridget, and I had poured our hearts and souls into this policy brief. By the end of the semester, we were a PIPS family. And even greater still, we were part of a larger PIPS family that included past fellows, interns, and professors dedicated to this project. I volunteer at W&M's admissions office and rave about PIPS to prospective students. Only at W&M would I have been able to get so involved in a real-world project and become a part of something larger than myself during freshman year. My semester with PIPS provided me the confidence to pursue true, well-documented knowledge in every sector of my life and to demand excellence from myself. With the PIPS family as my foundation, including three outstanding mentors, Professors Smith and Oakes and Bridget, I felt ready to tackle the rest of my undergraduate career.

Grace Perkins
PIPS Intern, 2010-2011 
W&M Class of 2014


Participating in the PIPS program has greatly shaped both my academic and career paths. In the beginning, I never thought of myself as being interested in research or policy. However, my experience in PIPS greatly changed that. In attempting to synthesize information and produce new policy solutions, I found myself inspired to continue the sort of critical thinking that had been instilled in us during the program. After PIPS, I have worked at the World Bank and Development Gateway—where I excelled, despite being the youngest member of both teams. While I continue to work for the Bank remotely throughout the school year, I have also been called on to train and supervise the new interns who are all Masters or PhD students from prestigious universities across the globe. For the past year, I have been working on my own research project that leverages crowd-sourcing technology to improve disaster management in the Philippines. The project has gained a lot of interest and support from the private and public sectors in both the United States and the Philippines. To this day, I believe that my project would not have been possible without the guidance and support of the PIPS program. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that PIPS has given me and the continued support for my endeavors.

Pat Austria
PIPS Intern, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2013


One of the greatest benefits of the PIPS program is the opportunity to work collaboratively with other students. Unlike class projects, PIPS students work together for the entire year, both in small groups and as a single team. Over time, each participant learns how they can most effectively contribute, and they develop those skills over the course of the program. As an intern, I worked closely with a PIPS Fellow, and we established a rapport and understanding of each others' strengths and weaknesses that made our work much more productive. These kinds of relationships with colleagues are typical of the professional world, and I feel confident that I can enter into any work environment and quickly learn how to contribute effectively. 

PIPS encourages students to learn in a way that is simply not present in the classroom. Rather than look at topics in broad strokes, PIPS asks its Fellows to examine deeply and critically examine the world's most pressing policy issues. Students are encouraged to challenge their assumptions and really understand the core of the issue. Not only is this type of learning more rewarding for the student, but allows the student to make an actual contribution to making our world a better, safer place.

Nicholas Bell
PIPS Intern, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2012
MA European Studies, University of Amsterdam, Class of 2013


Since completing my PIPS project in 2010, I have studied as a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, worked at the State Department’s Bureau of Research and Intelligence, and served as a Pickering Fellow in Shenyang, China. The process of finding, researching, writing, and presenting a policy-relevant paper while working with Professor Smith and managing a research assistant was invaluable to succeeding in each of these endeavors. 

The structure of PIPS proved crucial to my ability to succeed. I feel that the experience working with and benefiting from an RA is one of the unique aspects of PIPS that prepared me for later work. Greg Yellen, my RA, was as much responsible for the final project as I was. He was indispensible at the time, and his example has helped to inspire and guide me in my current role as an RA at SAIS. 

The writing process at PIPS was also key. I say process, because Greg and I must have rewritten 20 versions of my policy brief over a one-month period. Since then, I have felt far more comfortable writing passably, if dryly, under severe time constraints. 

Looking back, I benefited particularly from the presentation at the Brookings Institution. Comfort with public speaking before knowledgeable policy wonks and the ability to field critical questions was crucial to my interview for the Pickering Fellowship and success in the Foreign Service Oral Exam. These skills will undoubtedly serve me as a future diplomat as well. The experience also forced me to cover the entire, daunting, literature related to Taiwan Security, and contributed directly to my decision to major in China studies as a grad student. 

I doubt a similar program exists in the U.S. that could have provided the opportunity that PIPS was for me. I look forward to the program’s continued success and many more presentations of innovative work in the future.

Alex Bellah
PIPS Fellow, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2010
MA China Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Class of 2013
Pickering Fellow, Political/Economic Section, United States Consulate in Shenyang, China


I thought PIPS was a fantastic program and the most rewarding part of my undergraduate career. The structure of the program, which presented me with a real-world policy problem given by a “client” policymaker, a “boss” to report to (the professor), a research intern to direct, and a deadline to work towards, mirrored a workplace environment. Managing a research intern forced me to be focused and organized in my research from the start of the project. Writing the policy memo improved my ability to transmit a large amount of complex information in a clear and concise manner. Preparing for the presentation at the year-end conference in Washington D.C. developed my oral presentation skills. Thus, I believe that PIPS is a great program not only for those interested in pursuing a career in international relations, but for anyone interested in working in a client-services industry.

Levent Kiran
PIPS Fellow, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2010
University of Virginia Law School, Class of 2014


PIPS provides a singular experience that showcases the best that William & Mary has to offer its students: thorough, relevant, and challenging research, cooperative scholarship with distinguished faculty, and engagement with the defining issues of our time. The fast-paced and highly critical editing process for the PIPS policy memorandum prepared me for the short deadlines and long assignments on W&L's Law Review and the German Law Journal. PIPS challenged me to develop a comprehensive policy by thinking several steps ahead and accounting for a variety of contingencies and criticisms. The long-term strategic thinking encouraged by the PIPS program helped me to develop skills that can be applied in virtually any career. As people in every profession face increasing demands on their time and attention, PIPS teaches students how to write concise, persuasive memoranda that will satisfy any professor or employer. PIPS was a rewarding, challenging experience that was the perfect capstone to my International Relations major, and I am grateful for the time and energy that Professor Smith and Professor Oakes devoted to helping us succeed.

Kristopher McClellan
PIPS Fellow, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2010
Washington and Lee University Law School, Class of 2013


Working as a research assistant for the Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS) was one of the most beneficial and rewarding learning experiences of my college career. It was an incredible experience to get to work as a freshman with the brightest students at William & Mary and to meet with high-ranking officials from government organizations like the Department of Defense or the Department of State and well known academics. PIPS introduced me to the DC policy community and provided me with valuable contacts in government agencies and think tanks. 

The skills that PIPS teaches, analyzing a policy puzzle, conducting an extensive research project, learning the policy brief writing format, and succinctly presenting research, have made me a better student and are key skills that will help me succeed in the future. 

Of all the classes I have taken at
William & Mary, my independent study with the Project on International Peace and Security best prepared me for my future career. (I highly recommend the program.)

David Newbrander
PIPS Intern, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2013


The experiences I gained from participating in PIPS have been invaluable to launching my first career. I work as a consultant for PwC, and I find that I use the skills I learned from my year as a PIPS fellow almost daily. First of all, PIPS taught me how to write concisely and with value in every sentence. Although I am new to the Firm, my team has already recognized my strong writing skills and placed me on projects above my staff class, where I continue to developed the foundational skills I learned in PIPS. Second, the research experience I gained through PIPs has helped me on proposal efforts and staying up-to-date on my clients. Finally, PIPS taught me presentation skills, both how to create PowerPoint works of art and how to present confidently to an audience. 

The skills and knowledge that I developed as a PIPS fellow have served me well at the beginning of my career, and will continue to come into play as I grow as a young professional.

Hannah Thornton
PIPS Fellow, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2010
Consultant at PriceWaterHouseCoopers


PIPS offered me a unique opportunity to work hard on work worth doing in the realm of U.S. national security. My experience with PIPS sharpened my ability to think critically, enhanced my understanding of the threats facing the United States in the 21st century, and gave me a window into the world of U.S. foreign policymaking inside the beltway. Along the way, I benefited from an unparalleled level of daily exchange with both dedicated faculty and highly capable students.Perhaps most importantly, PIPS showed me that I could serve my country through ideas and gave me a practical basis upon which to pursue internships and post-graduate employment in the field.

Greg Yellen
PIPS Fellow, 2009-2010
W&M Class of 2013


I think the effects of PIPS have been two fold. First, the project work itself generated a new professional interest. Since going to law school, I've become very interested in environmental law and particularly policies surrounding alternative energy, and I credit PIPS for the background interest that caused me to learn more about those areas in the first place. The firm with which I'm working this summer does a lot in those areas. Second, it has been a tremendous help career-wise. I have had probably around twenty or so job interviews with big, national law firms since I started law school, and I have discussed PIPS in every single one. Graduating in government or international relations, as I and I think many PIPS folks do, I believe often leaves an employer wondering whether the graduate can take all the big ideas they have and actually translate them into something concrete. For better or worse, the degree says a lot about one's interests but not always a lot about one's experience with real-world problems. PIPS is the perfect conduit to bridge that gap. It's a great way to show one can produce professional level work directed at a real-world issue, and its connection outside of academia to the policy world - the fact that one can say the work was done to impress people in the policy community, not just to hand in for a grade - provides a seriousness and legitimacy that many liberal arts resumes, mine included, sorely need.

Jeremy Meisinger
PIPS Fellow, 2008-2009
W&M Class of 2009
Harvard Law School, Class of 2013


The PIPS fellowship was one of the most valuable experiences I had during my undergraduate studies. PIPS helped improve my research, writing, presentation and time management skills. It was a great opportunity to perform in-depth undergraduate research on a topic that was relevant to current affairs and that I found personally interesting. 

The fellowship led me to a job interview after we presented our work at a small year-end conference at Booz Allen Hamilton headquarters in the DC area. I currently work in an international communications firm and am confident that the research I performed through the fellowship will also prove very helpful when I apply to Masters programs in the next few years. 

Dennis Smith and Amy Oakes were outstanding mentors and are the reason that PIPS was such a positive experience. I am deeply grateful to both of them for going above and beyond to support our research and make the fellowship meaningful by connecting us with professionals in the field. Thank you both and thank you PIPS for a truly rewarding academic and personal experience!

Rachel Walsh
PIPS Fellow, 2008-2009 
W&M Class of 2009
Associate, International Communications Firm in Doha, Qatar