Internship, Westminster based think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (2013)
With the help of the School of Government and Society's Student Enhancement fund, this summer I undertook a six week academic research internship at the Westminster based think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs.
The IEA is the UK's original free-market thinktank and its mission statement is “to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems". Andrew Marr credited the institute with being"...undoubtedly the most influential think tank in modern British history".
My primary work was on a 6000 word research paper on a topic of my choice, for which I chose to peruse a study into Government monetary failures as a cause of the recent financial crisis. Not being an economics student (I study International Relations) some of the content I had to deal with was rather advanced but the IEA provided unrivalled academic support from an assigned personal tutor and their extensive resources. My time at the IEA was a steep learning curve and not only helped me develop my understanding of pro-market political economy but network with a number of academics at the top of their field. Furthermore the IEA put on a host of lectures, seminars and careers talks for undergraduate interns and those wishing to pursue postgraduate study or work in a "career in ideas". All interns also had to give a presentation on their research and partake in a series of debates on contentious and controversial topics designed to push thinking and hone debating skills. I was given perhaps the hardest of the lot and had to make the case for a market based platform for adoption through the buying and selling of parental rights! (Its fair to say the audience vote didn't go my way - unsurprisingly!)
Overall I learnt a great deal from my time at the IEA, both academically and in terms of of research skills which I hope will come in useful for my final year dissertation back in Birmingham. The advice I received will really help me with my future career choices and I have already invited some of the contacts I made to Birmingham to speak to a number of student societies.
Thanks again to the SoGS Student Enhancement Fund for making this all possible!