My learning goals have definitely changed a bit since first establishing them before my internship. For example, I came to understand and value the importance of doing a wide range of jobs in my internship – whether it be picking up food for a meeting, note taking, or attending a conference. I realized that rather than choosing one specific type of job or focus area, I preferred and would find more value in taking on anything that came my way. I would say I definitely ended up reaching this goal; one co-worker noted that they appreciated my offering to help out with “whatever, whenever.” I have definitely run into information and experiences that have challenged my beliefs, and come to a better understanding of some of the ideological sacrifices one may choose to make (or choose not to make) in working under the guise of a larger organization, or in my case, the government of the United States.
My career interests have certainly shifted. For example, after hearing about the life that Foreign Service Officers in the State Department commit to (moving to a different post every 3 years, sometimes with little choice), I decided that may not be the best option for me. Other opportunities, such as working for other government agencies or in a Civil Service posting in the Department of State seem more like opportunities I’d like to pursue. I still remain uncertain about my career interests, though; the choice still remains between a domestic-focused career and more of an international-focused career, and I hope to clarify these interests in the future.
Over the course of the internship, I’ve come to enjoy the day-to-day interactions with those around me. Whether it be chatting over coffee, a quick work question, or just catching up, these interactions were so important for building valuable connections.
If I could give one piece of advice to someone looking to intern for the Department of State (or more specifically, the U.S. Mission to the UN), it would be that it’s helpful to know what you want. While I certainly got by with my “whatever, whenever” preference, I think it could be really helpful to have a specific area (whether it be a specific type of policy, geographic region, or otherwise) that you “specialize” in. The State Department is structured in a way that those who have a specific focus can really excel in what they do.
One piece of information that I think is important to those going into international diplomacy-focused fields is that small wins and compromises can go a long way. When you show a partner (or enemy) that you’re willing to work with them, they can and will value and trust you. This may lead to specific policy outcomes that are more beneficial to your positions.
This summer, I’m most proud that I got to experience global events on the micro-level. Whether it was note taking for a Security Council meeting on Ukraine or drafting a recommendation for a meeting, I had the opportunity to see and interact with these events, and U.S. policy related to them, up close. I may be mistaken, but I think it’s generally rare to have an internship that gives such up-close access to matters of high importance. I’m proud that I was able to witness these events on a near-daily basis, and that I could always do work that carried meaning and importance.