By Abigail Goff, Stratfor Intern
When I first heard the word Stratfor about a year ago, I was sitting at a small desk on the first morning of my first day of high school at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) in Austin, Texas. Little did I know that a fantastic school year full of tumultuous projects, late night reading and entertaining class summits would lead me to a much larger desk with a freshly laminated ID at Stratfor headquarters as my first internship began.
Back in the classroom on that first day of high school, my world geography teacher, Cody Moody, weaved between desks handing out usernames and passwords (Stratfor had given LASA students access to Stratfor Worldview’s online analysis and forecasting) to all of the attentive faces as he described the work that we would be doing in the year ahead. As I logged onto Worldview for the first time and skimmed the titles of articles, I knew my research projects would breeze by. The words being spoken in the classroom around me blurred as I dug into the archive of Stratfor articles at my fingertips. Just being able to skim through analysis about the elections in Zimbabwe was a nerd heaven. I felt like just looking through the numerous geopolitical assessments and snapshots made me smarter.
Throughout the school semester, Stratfor became a go to tool that I used for research projects extending beyond my world geography class, including Biology as well as English (maybe not those projects about strawberry DNA, but I probably could have found something about the strawberry agricultural sector of Turkey). I noticed myself referencing a Stratfor article I had read in discussions at the dinner table or in casual conversations about politics with friends. Sometimes, they even knew the article I was talking about! When the year was over, I could definitely say that Stratfor changed how I experienced my first year of high school.
A week into summer, the holiday shine began to wear off and boredom came creeping around the corner. I needed some way to spend my time that was productive and meaningful as well as interesting and insightful. Almost as if my mind had been read, an email from my world geography teacher appeared in my inbox and inside was a fantastic opportunity for a summer long internship at Stratfor’s headquarters. I knew that this internship would combine all that I loved about that world geography class into an engaging job in a creative, analytical atmosphere where I could thrive.
That next Monday, I stood shyly in an elevator next to a sharply dressed woman who I would soon learn to be Reva Goujon, vice president of global analysis at Stratfor. I was even more shocked when 30 minutes later I glanced at the office TV, tuned to CNN, where the same woman who I had been standing in the elevator with was engaged in discussion on live television. That first day went by in a blur.
I was pleased to discover that I would be working with two other interns from my school: Melina and Sophia, two girls I recognized from our soccer season. We were shown to our spacious office that had posted on the door to our delight: “LASA interns HQ,” making it all feel very official. We were interested to learn more about Stratfor and its company model, not knowing much past the articles we had read in class. We dug into articles about risk management, attacking each with our different colored highlighters and making the most out of the whiteboards.
From the get go, our supervisor, Stratfor Chief Product Officer Ken Maranian, made it clear that the work we would be doing at Stratfor would be meaningful and useful to the company. We would not be given menial tasks designed to just keep us busy. That inclusive, welcoming and valued feeling was one I experienced throughout my time at Stratfor. The first week was spent sitting in on meetings, having discussions with employees at the coffee machines and furiously typing away at our computers. Every day was a little different and a little more exciting than the last.
During the same time of our internship, the 2018 World Cup in Russia was being played in high intensity games. We were not the only ones invested in our favorite teams. During lunch breaks, it was exciting to stand with a group around the TV, eating our sandwiches, gasping at near goal misses and celebrating those that made it into the net. We soon learned that the analysts at Strafor were thinking beyond soccer and their watching of the games was not purely for pleasure.
Leave it up to Stratfor to make football geopolitical (in the best way possible).
While reading Worldview a few days later, I was pleasantly surprised to see a clever article comparing and contrasting the teams playing in the World Cup based on the geopolitics of their home countries. I was fascinated to read that the celebration hand signals following a goal against Serbia by one of the members of the Swiss team was a nationalist symbol referencing the Balkan wars as well current migration tensions. Leave it up to Stratfor to make football geopolitical (in the best way possible).
One day upon walking into Stratfor, the atmosphere seemed to buzz with a little more excitement than usual. I soon learned that one of Stratfor’s high profile clients had flown out to the headquarters for a big meeting. I was even more surprised when a few minutes after the meeting, President and CEO Chip Harmon stepped into our office and asked us if we wanted to meet them. Of course we did!
Then to celebrate the Fourth of July, as well as a successful meeting, Amy’s ice cream was served upstairs. We all stood out on the patio with delicious, creamy desserts in hand and began the most casual discussions ranging from the conflict in the Middle East to the aging population of Russia. I would like to take this moment to coin the phrase: “Only at Stratfor.”