The very first CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellowship is now over. I can say that it was definitely a success for me. I have achieved all the goals that I set in the beginning: to learn best practices and know-how in managing a think tank; to improve my skills in analytical research work; and to learn how to disseminate policy proposals efficiently and ensure their implementation.
My host organization was the Cato Institute. The experience there was essential in terms of achieving all my goals, and more beyond that. Constant interactions with the scholars and staff made the experience truly rewarding. What is quite special to Cato is that there are informal discussions that take place all the time and on various topics. I learned a lot from them and even managed to contribute a “European perspective,” as some referred to it.
Some of the most rewarding experiences during my stay were the one-on-one meetings with the representatives of the major think tanks and research institutions in DC. Of course, I had the opportunity to do that at Cato, which included weekly meetings with senior fellow Jagadeesh Gokhale with whom we worked closely on the issues of financial crisis in the U.S. I had a stunning discussion of economics and politics with the senior fellow Andrei Illarionov, former chief economic adviser of Vladimir Putin. In terms of managing think tanks, I had a great opportunity to learn about best practices in managing Cato personally from its Executive Vice President David Boaz.
Moreover, learning more about think tank work was possible not only at Cato, but also in other major think tanks around DC. I was privileged to have meetings with Andy Moffatt, Associate Director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution; Jim Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and James Broughel, Program Manager, Regulatory Studies Program at the Mercatus Center of the George Mason University. Following my own experience from meeting with these people and visiting respective institutions, I can firmly agree with international rankings, which list them among the best think tanks in the world.
It is essential that the fellowship takes place in Washington, DC. Living and experiencing DC provides, among other opportunities, the chance to learn and to some degree feel how the regulatory policy works in the U.S. It is also a great place to attend professional events of all sorts, meet new people and get all kinds of opportunities for professional development. You can discuss the issues you are working on with the best professionals in those fields. Probably one of the most interesting discussions I had at one of such event was with former Czech President Vaclav Klaus.
But DC isn’t limited to professional life. It has a great social life as well (of course, if you manage to get out of work time to time). However, what is special about DC in this respect is that social life and professional one are very interconnected, and one is often a continuation of the other. This is enhanced even more through the fellowship which brings great professionals from all over the world with whom you can communicate on professional issues and also make great friendships.
I’m absolutely happy with the fellowship and the opportunities it gave to me. Having achieved my personal goals, I now have a lot to share back home. I believe it is an essential part of the Think Tank LINKS Fellowship. Therefore, if I can implement effectively the knowledge I gained, this will be the best outcome of the fellowship both for me and for my country – Belarus.
CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellowship brings talented young professionals with strong research backgrounds to shadow researchers and experts at leading U.S. think tanks for six months. Maksim Karliuk was part of the inaugural class and served at the Cato Institute.