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Daniel Schifrin

'18 (IR/PSC)

Daniel interned at StandardsWork while participating in the Maxwell-in-Washington Undergraduate Program in Spring 2017. 


 I am a junior from Bethesda, MD studying political science and international relations, with a concentration on international security and diplomacy and a regional focus on Latin America. I interned for StandardsWork, a non-profit education consultancy that focuses on three core areas that we believe need elevation – both in conversation and in practice: the vital role curriculum plays in delivering content and in teaching skills, the importance of building deep background knowledge in students, and the “octane” that specific evidence-based instructional practices can provide. 

My internship went very well. StandardsWork was in the midst of a relaunch after a brief period of public inactivity during my time there, so my experience was more like working for a startup than an established organization. This gave me the opportunity to play an important role in the creation of the website and as a result, I think that I probably had a more hands-on experience than some of the other students in the program. One of the coolest things I worked on was creating a list of schools in major urban school districts that implement the Knowledge-Rich curriculum that StandardsWork has long advocated for. I made this list in preparation for site visits that unfortunately I didn't get to be apart of, but this was still really interesting nonetheless. 

Although my internship was focused on education, one issue that I am extremely passionate about within the international field, is the United States effort in the War on Drugs. In order to combat the ever-increasing demand for illegal drugs, the United States has resorted to a supply-side economic approach that attempts to decrease overall demand for these substances by reducing the overall supply. At the center of these policies is the assumption that drug prices will rise to the point that demand is significantly curbed downward. I believe this view is misguided. I believe that the United States should prioritize community treatment programs that focus on rehabilitation of drug offenders. This is an issue that I have long been passionate and I would love to work on this post-graduation in order to get the discussion moving in the right direction. 

The Maxwell in DC program really helped me to figure out what it is I am interested in. Exploring a new foreign policy topic each week in class as well as through the Global Policy Seminar has really gave me a feel for the things that I am most passionate about. Before this semester, I was planning to focus on Europe for my regional concentration. Shortly after the semester started, I realized that the drug war was the topic I am most passionate about. As a result, I began doing a lot of research and reading on this topic. One of the best pieces of advice I received this semester is to pick a region and/or topic and become an expert in it, rather than trying to get expertise in a variety of different topics. This led me to focus on Latin America and the drug war. 

There is a ton of really great food in DC. Even though I grew up just outside of the city and had been to most of the museums before, going as an adult really gave me a newfound appreciation. Another great thing about DC is the people that you meet. The networking opportunities here are aplenty and are frankly unrivaled in any other place I have been. 

Future DC students: Apply to a lot of different  internships early on. Think about what it is that you are passionate about and try to identify organizations that work on those topics.