Summer 2011 Internship Post #2 – Dara Stofenberg

Dara Stofenberg is a second year MIA student concentrating in International Security Policy.


One of things I am most grateful for at SIPA is the wide variety of employers across sectors who come to the school to recruit for their organizations. On any given day, there are multiple employers from think tanks, NGOs, the U.S. Government, and consulting firms coming “to sell” their organization to SIPA students, whom they view as potential future employees. It was through this process that I found my summer internship at Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, DC. Over the course of my 10 week experience, I provided analytical support, conducted research, and wrote papers to help the firm better support some of its security sector clients.

Booz Allen Hamilton is a top government consulting firm and contractor, as well as one of the Fortune 500 largest public companies. The firm has been ranked consistently by FORTUNE magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and this summer I learned that it is easy to see why.  “Collaboration” is perhaps the most important word at Booz Allen. Teamwork drives everything the firm does. Whiteboards and discussions are the modes that drive the way work is conducted. Bouncing ideas off of colleagues, regardless of their tenure, is a consistent feature of the work day. This aspect creates an energizing and friendly environment where people are happy to help and mentor one another.

Coming from SIPA, where students are no stranger to doing things in groups, all of the group projects, homework assignments, presentations, and study sessions, I participated in during my first year definitely helped prepare me to excel in this environment. Like at SIPA, working in a group environment at Booz Allen fostered some great relationships. I interned in a small cohort with 13 other students from other great international and public affairs schools, including two other Columbia students. I look forward to being in contact with these individuals both personally and professionally throughout my career.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to work directly in my area of interest and in an engaging environment where diversity, development, and merit were highly valued. If not for SIPA, I probably would not have had the opportunity to have gained this incredible experience.