A senior majoring in economics and political science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nolan Johnson of Omaha, Nebraska, received the Steve Nelson Yeutter Institute International Trade Internship Award, which includes an internship with a stipend to support living costs when recipients intern during the summer at the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). A former Yeutter Student Fellow, he shares about his summer interning at the Washington International Trade Association (WITA).
Why did you decide to major in economics and how did you get interested in international trade?
In high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do until I took my first economics class in my senior year, which I really enjoyed and found intuitive. In college, I pursued a major in economics and later added political science as my second major to gain a different perspective. Last summer, I had the opportunity to work with John Beghin (Mike Yanney Chair and professor of agricultural economics) at the Yeutter Institute, conducting research and forecasting for Cargill — an experience that solidified my interest in international trade, particularly with a focus on agriculture and commodities.
What does receiving this prestigious award, presented for only the third time, mean to you personally and professionally?
Personally, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been selected for this award. I'm grateful the committee took a chance on me and believed in my abilities, as they did with the previous recipients. I strive every day to live up to the expectations associated with this honor. Professionally, I believe that this award, which includes a stipend for living costs, offered by the university and with a specific path in mind, will set me apart in the future when seeking careers in the industry.
How has your experience at WITA been so far?
My internship at WITA has been a great learning experience. I've gained valuable skills in management and event planning, which will be helpful in my future endeavors. One of the challenges I faced when I first started was that I was new to the job, so it took me a while to get up to speed. However, my team was very supportive and helped me to get acclimated quickly. Also, I really appreciate the open and honest communication I have with my supervisor. We discuss tasks and goals in a straightforward manner, which makes it easy to stay on track. Finally, I've enjoyed being in the D.C. area. There are many opportunities to attend events and network with like-minded individuals, which has been very beneficial.
Are there specific goals or outcomes you hope to achieve during your internship?
As a part of the scholarship stipulation, when I return to campus in the fall, I will collaborate with the Yeutter Institute to organize one of their Husker Trade Talks focused on agricultural policy. Accordingly, I have sought guidance from Jill O’Donnell, the director of the Yeutter Institute, to brainstorm topics and to know the right people to reach out to. This has allowed me to create meaningful connections during my time at WITA. These conversations have been incredibly enriching, and I am becoming more confident in my ability to present and speak about the subjects I’ve learned over the past year.
As a previous Yeutter Fellow, how did that opportunity impact you and contribute to your understanding of international trade?
I first learned about the Yeutter Institute program during my sophomore year of college when I was taking an Introduction to International Economics course. My professor mentioned that the Yeutter Institute was accepting applications, and I saw it as a great opportunity as international trade, especially economics, had already captured my interest. I decided to apply, and thankfully, I was accepted. Since then, I have learned a great deal and established valuable connections through the Institute. It definitely influenced my decision to pursue this internship and deepen my understanding of international trade.
What are your long-term career goals, and how do you envision your involvement in international trade or potentially other related fields in the future?
My long-term career goals are still somewhat uncertain, as I am considering both government and corporate routes. However, I can see myself incorporating aspects of both. In the short term, I am particularly interested in logistics, especially within the food and fuel sectors, as they relate to commodities. Ultimately, I aspire to travel for work and make meaningful contributions to the field of international trade.
How do you plan to apply the knowledge and experiences gained through this internship to make a meaningful contribution to the agricultural trade industry or related policy areas?
With a focus on logistics, I aim to improve supply chain stability. The significant disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the recent Russia-Ukraine invasion have highlighted the need for resilient global supply chains. I am particularly interested in exploring innovative approaches to enhance stability and ensure safe international trade, especially for American or Nebraska-based companies seeking global opportunities.
Published: August 8, 2023