The mission of the Cato Institute is to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace. The Institute will use the most effective means to originate, advocate, promote, and disseminate applicable policy proposals that create free, open, and civil societies in the United States and throughout the world.
Director's Interns assist policy staff as researchers; work with the conference department to organize policy conferences, debates, and forums; attend weekly seminars and conferences; and assist Cato's professional staff by copying and filing newspaper articles, distributing materials to congressional offices, and preparing mailings. In addition to their research and other duties, interns take part in regular seminars on politics, economics, law, and philosophy, as well as a series of lectures and films on libertarian themes. (Director's Interns are also encouraged, but not required, to play on the Institute's softball team.)
Director's Internships are open to undergraduates, regardless of major, who have a strong commitment to individual liberty, private property, free markets, limited government, and the philosophy of classical, or market, liberalism.
While it's difficult to address specific projects (as they vary based on department), Director's research interns focus on substantive policy work for scholars focusing on trade, regulation, fiscal and budgetary issues, monetary policy, economic development, etc. Tasks may include economic research and data collection, economic modeling, government program or agency analysis, writing, editing, among others. Competency in intermediate and advance economic concepts, mathematics, statistics, and familiarity with economic indices would certainly add value to the Institutes efforts.
2015 Intern Reflection:
Working at the Cato Institute has offered me the opportunity to engage with some of the brightest minds in D.C., both with regards to Cato’s scholars as well as the incredible fellow interns I’ve come to know. One of the centerpieces of the internship is the frequent seminars that allow interns to explore rich and varied subjects that often expose individuals to new fields and ideas (in immigration, monetary policy, and health care, among many others). These seminars can sometimes challenge one’s existing understanding, but also ensure interns will leave more knowledgeable about the world and with a stronger appreciation for the political philosophy that often drives our conceptions of it.
Alongside the seminars and the frequent debates and conversations with colleagues, each intern also works with individual departments and scholars in a chosen field. Personally, I interned for the Center for Trade Policy Studies, allowing me to research subjects as interesting and diverse as proposed Free Trade Agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, regulatory policy in the US and abroad, and more. This invaluable opportunity has helped me develop my research skills in a way that is completely translatable to Harvard and in the workplace beyond. Another part of what makes the Cato internship so uniquely fulfilling is the degree of independence the interns retain, allowing them to conduct original research for meaningful projects and to engage with the scholars toward these ends. Ultimately, anyone with a passion for knowing more about the world and openness to new ideas can succeed at Cato, and I would recommend this intern experience to all such persons.
Bryan Poellot '17
2014 Intern Reflection:
The Cato Institute provides one of the most well developed summer internship opportunities in Washington D.C. My summer was filled with substantive work in interesting fields of study with renowned scholars and intellectuals. Each intern is assigned to a general department or specific scholar to work under for the duration of the summer. I worked for Dr. Jeff Miron, Harvard Economics professor and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, on major projects that included research on budget policy and energy subsidies. I also worked on some supplemental research for another scholar on Social Security Disability Insurance and State Pension Reforms.
In addition to working as research assistants, interns participate in multiple weekly seminars given by Cato scholars on their respective public policy expertise. These topics ranged from immigration, education, and fiscal policy to political philosophy and history. The purpose of the seminars is to deepen the interns understanding of the libertarian movement and to provide insight on other areas of research at the Cato Institute. One often unmentioned aspect of summer internships is the intern environment itself. The libertarian community is close-knit, and the Cato Institute does an excellent job at promoting intern bonding and networking. I would definitely recommend this internship to anybody interested in libertarian political philosophy or advancing liberty minded public policy.
Blake Paterson '17
2013 Intern Reflection:
I worked as a research intern for Budget and Tax Policy, which allowed me to assist Cato scholars in a broad range of economic and budgetary issues at perhaps the most important and intellectually stimulating time to do so. I have done research and fiscal analysis on Social Security, the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and USAID, to name a few.
Work at Cato has been substantive, filled with meaningful research projects rather than menial tasks. I also had the opportunity to represent Cato in the annual Libertarianism vs. Conservatism debate against interns from the Heritage Foundation. Preparation for the debate was extensive, and I was able to work with various Cato scholars and executives in the process, revealing the team-oriented nature of Cato’s work culture. I had the opportunity to debate on issues as far-ranging as immigration, gay marriage, military interventionism, the drug war, and more.
Caleb Galoozis ‘14