UMass Amherst Department of Political Science


Internship "Redefines" Political Science for Nigro '13


student news


“An internship is the most important component of your undergraduate education,” says Patrick Nigro ’13.

Nigro, who spent his summer interning at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University (the university system for the United States Department of Defense), says his internship taught him valuable research skills and helped him to make connections with professionals in the defense field.  “I was able to meet numerous retired senior military officials and active senior diplomatic officials from various countries across the Western Hemisphere….  Listening to (ret.) General Carlos Ospína Ovalle, former Colombian Commander of the Armed Forces, discuss his role in the Uribe Administration tactically defeating the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was breathlessly amazing.”

Nigro also developed close relationships with two faculty members at the National Defense University. And he honed his research and writing skills as he poured over hundreds of articles related to human rights in support of his professors’ research agendas. Nigro’s research into drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere even earned him co-authorship credit in an article which will appear in the spring edition of Security and Defense Studies Review

Beyond these professional relationships and networking opportunities, the internship gave him a new lens through which he could view his political science studies: “I have a much deeper understanding of what I have been studying at UMass over the past three years,” he says. “My internship has redefined my UMass experience.”

It also reinforced the quality of education at UMass: “Before this internship, I was a UMass student who thought he had a good knowledge of political science and history in the context of Latin America.  After having completed this internship, I know that I have a terrific knowledge of political science and history in the context of Latin America!”

Moreover, Nigro is more aware of the areas on which he should focus during his final year at UMass. “Learning a secondary language is the most critical lifelong skill one must acquire,” he says.  His internship and academics have taught him the skills necessary to break into the defense industry, but he now knows for sure that proficiency in a second language will be critical as he tries to climb the professional ladder.

Nigro is not alone in recognizing the value of internships. In 2011, UMass Amherst boasted one of the highest rates of graduating seniors with internship experience when compared to universities across the nation (US News & World Report). 

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