I can’t believe that I finished my internship. I was sad to leave, but I know that I’m going to treasure this experience for the rest of my career.
I was able to fulfill all of my learning objectives through my tasks and responsibilities:
- Improve my ability to write clearly and concisely. My tasks would often include taking several pages of documents or seeking out existing research, and then prioritizing the important topics to cover in a one page document.
- Enhance my communication skills. Sometimes I would present my research at meetings, which was honestly nerve-racking at first, but sharing the work that I had done definitely enhanced my communication skills as well as my confidence.
- Learn how to effectively network. Networking is HUGE in DC. I took advantage of being in the area by setting up informational interviews with people both inside and outside the government. It was great practice for when I return and need to seek out a job!
- Pursue my personal interest in learning more about the Central and Eastern Europe region. DC is great because there are free events throughout the city that people regularly attend to learn about certain topics. I attended meetings and events throughout DC on topics such as the EU and NATO that enabled me to continue learning about the region that I am interested in.
- Gain a better understanding of U.S. goals abroad. As someone who worked on Internet Freedom and Business and Human Rights, I learned about the multilateral fora that the U.S. participates in to advance human rights, such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, the International Code of Conduct Association, and the Freedom Online Coalition.
After this experience, I am even more passionate advancing human rights, and I plan to continue doing so at Tulane and beyond. Engaging in such important work has also instilled a new level of confidence in me, and I have a better understanding of how to seek out job opportunities in DC after graduation.
Although I have learned so much upon the completion of my internship, I am still eager to learn more. During my internship, I saw more of a top-down, governmental policy approach to human rights, which was fantastic. Next, I would love to see the other side of this: a more in the field, civil society approach to advancing human rights.
For a student who is interested in interning at the State Department, my advice is to just apply online! The application opens in September and is due in October. Be prepared to manually enter a very descriptive resume and write a personal statement.
For a student who is interested in working in foreign policy and/or international human rights, I believe that it helps if you have language skills and extensive experience abroad. Neither of those things applied to me, so I built on my coursework and my previous internship experience in public service to demonstrate my interest.
My concept of gender in the workplace was challenged because I worked on a team of all women. The business and tech fields are often seen as predominantly male, so I was surprised and pleased by this. I also heard about the State Department’s effort to recruit more diverse employees. As someone who believes that diversity shapes a better workplace, this belief was reinforced.
I have learned that being a more effective problem solver is a team effort. It is crucial to reach out to different people who are experts on other topics and hear about their input. Diplomacy and foreign policy require this collaborative approach.
*NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the U.S. government.