The last weeks of my internship at the Embassy went extremely well. At the American Citizen Services unit I took on the task of reorganizing the several bins for official forms that are handed out to clients, making it easier to locate desired forms and ultimately increasing the unit’s efficiency. I had the chance to attend a private meeting with a Spanish business entrepreneurial leader, which was probably one of the most interesting events during my time at the Embassy. I had the chance to experience the “cool” part of being a diplomat: having a driver taking me and the Consular Foreign Service Officer I was with to the meeting in an official diplomatic car, and personally representing the US in front of a prestigious Spanish business leader. But even more importantly, I learned that meeting with local contacts is absolutely key to understanding a country’s situation. This meeting gave us insight into what is really going on in the entrepreneurial scene in Spain, much more that any press article or blog post would. In addition, I learned how to integrate the content of an interview into an Embassy report, and to remember meeting themes and details without taking notes.
At the Economic Section, I continued work on the follow-up part of the 4th of July’s corporate fundraising project, and requested a new project that helped me incorporate some of my economics knowledge and develop new skills. The new project consisted of skimming through long and complex macroeconomic analyst reports on the Spanish economy, identifying the key points and aspects of those reports and summarizing the information in a concise macroeconomic fact sheet. The fact sheet would be for internal Embassy use, specifically to brief congressional delegations, senators, treasury delegations, and other Embassy visitors. The task was challenging, as I was skimming through piles of analyst reports with limited time and without an advanced knowledge of macroeconomics. However, I quickly got used to reading quickly, then going deeper into the readings when I identified a key aspect. My supervisors seemed very satisfied with the result, and I developed skills that I use now for school readings.
On my last week, I received an email from two of my supervisors about a “surprise” that would be taking place later that week. The surprise turned out to be an award from the Ambassador himself (see photo). I received a US Department of State Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding service. The Ambassador gave me the certificate along with his personal token coin, a typical item that represents one’s department, unit, embassy, or any other agency of the federal government. I was extremely honored and excited to receive the award, and receiving compensation for my work was truly priceless.
I think I’ll never forget that last day at the Embassy: turning in my badge, saying goodbye to my friends and coworkers, and walking through the Embassy’s beautiful patio. The internship made me realize how much there is to a career in foreign policy, how it is possible to advance a country’s interests and cooperate internationally at the same time, and how hard US diplomats work to advance the Department of State’s mission. Big ideas like these are important to understanding the impact of one’s day-to-day work, and I look forward to incorporating these ideas and new skills into my future career – whatever it turns out to be.