As my time interning at the ITA draws to a close and I reflect on my summer, I feel that I have learned a lot and accomplished the goals that I set for myself at the start of the summer. I have learned about how the U.S. government supports international trade through assisting with that work in my day-to-day tasks. Similarly, through attending intern events and talking with ITA employees, I have learned about the opportunities available at the Department of Commerce, and in the broader field of international trade. In fact, one of the things that I am most proud of this summer is how proactive and outgoing I was about conducting informational interviews. Through them, I have learned that there are many more career paths in this field than I initially realized. Finally, I have improved my communication skills, adapting them to the worlds of business and government. The style of communication there is much more direct and concise than the academic writing that I am used to, but I hope to apply what I have learned to my assignments this upcoming year.
Additionally, I learned a lot about myself throughout the summer. I found that I did well in the environment of my internship. Being remote, it was a very independent environment, but I appreciated that the regional managers were available to answer any questions that arose. I also found that I really enjoyed learning more about the companies that I researched, and the challenge of conveying my conclusions as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, I found that it is important to me to know that the work I am doing matters, and I have gotten this satisfaction through my internship. I plan to use this insight to identify which companies I think will be a good fit for me when I apply for jobs this upcoming year.
There are several pieces of advice that I would give to students interested in a summer internship at the ITA, or more broadly in government work. One of the most salient is to not be afraid to speak up, be it a question or a desire to work on a particular topic. In all likelihood, the employees will be happy to talk with you and keep you in mind when something relevant to your interests comes up. This is especially important with remote internships since you need to be more deliberate about communication. Also, I would recommend that you take advantage of any networking opportunities that arise, since they are only available for a limited amount of time. Whether you are attending events specifically for interns or are reaching out to a particular person to learn more about their job and career path, every conversation is a chance to learn more about the company (and broader field) in which you are interning. This aspect of internships is very much what you make of it, and I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity provided.