Cato Internships Go Virtual

Opportunities persist in the era of social distancing

July/​August 2020 • Policy Report

Cato’s internships have long been one of the Institute’s flagship programs, helping prepare the next generation of leaders for liberty. An integral part of this program is the John Russell Paslaqua Intern Seminar Series. All Cato interns take part in more than 40 seminars with the Institute’s scholars and policy analysts, covering the range of libertarian theory, history, and Cato’s policy work.

With Cato on a work‐​from‐​home posture due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer 2020 intern class has also had to adapt, with the seminars going virtual along with the rest of their intern experience. But that hasn’t stopped Cato from providing an immersive educational experience of the highest quality.

“While it’s tough not to have a material workplace or coworkers to connect with over lunch, my time with Cato so far has offered a glimpse of what a new normal might look like. Though it might lack the glamor of trips to Capitol Hill and roundtables on Think Tank Row, the substance of my work—the insightful research, the piercing inquiries, and the relentless commitment to pursuing truth in the policy space—remains as strong as ever,” explains Ashley Hitchings, a rising sophomore pursuing economics and data science at the University of Chicago who is interning with Cato’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies.

“Although we’re all working from home, the scholars in my department still feel very accessible to me,” explains Brandon Beyer, a third‐​year law student at the University of Notre Dame who is interning with the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies. “I have frequent calls, emails, and Zoom chats with them. The department is also doing things like virtual happy hours to reconcile for some of the social aspects of the internship program that are made more difficult by the remote setting.”

While much of the intern seminars remain focused on the usual curriculum, current events have also been a substantial part of the discussion. “The work of Cato during the pandemic proves once again its emphasis on analyzing current relevant issues affecting America and the rest of the world, as a large part of our seminar discussions and assigned projects are related to policies resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to Camila Goris, a master’s student in applied economics at the University of Minnesota who is interning with Cato’s tax and budget policy team.

Cato’s internships provide crucial career opportunities, and admission is highly competitive. Many of Cato’s own scholars began as Cato interns, and others have gone on to lead impactful careers throughout the world of law, communications, and policy work. Although the current class has been unable to join Cato’s team in Washington as usual, Cato looks forward to welcoming them back as soon as possible and continuing to help with their bright future.

More information about Cato’s internship program, including how to apply, can be found at intern​.cato​.org.

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