https://careers.state.gov

U.S. Department of State

Unpaid Intern

June - August 2019 • Washington, DC

What I liked

I learned a lot about not only how my office was run but how State operates in general. There was always some interesting seminar where you could learn about, say, living in the Middle East as a female diplomat, or how technology advancements impact cybersecurity. There were also intern tours to learn about the facility, career-building workshops, and (my favorite part) interns got lending privileges at the Department library. I was doing interesting work that made a difference and I really enjoyed my office.

What I wish was different

Before you apply, you need to think about this: State is non-partisan, and when you work there, you have to be too. Goals are top-down and will come from a presidential administration you might disagree with, but whether or not you agree with their priorities or messaging, it's your job to further them. On the other hand, you might completely agree with the administration and think that the goals you're furthering are great. It all depends on what's going on with State when you, personally, apply.

Advice

DC housing is pricey and I had no luck finding a sublet. Look up DC intern housing options: universities like GW and Georgetown rent out their dorms for the summer, and some companies offer dedicated intern spaces. It's not cheap but it's better than your chances on the regular housing market. On the other hand, if you intern away from DC at an embassy or consulate, they don't guarantee housing but there's a chance it may be provided. Also, pack your lunches. The cafeteria is expensive for what you get.
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Political and Economic Intern

June - August 2017 • Milan, Province of Milan

What I liked

Great work experience abroad, especially helpful if deciding to apply to the Foreign Service.

What I wish was different

Advice

The government specialist helped me build my online profile for the usajobs.com website, which really made a difference.
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Consulate Intern

May - July 2019 • Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin

What I liked

I loved that I was able to work on real projects with the consulate staff. I wasn't treated like a secretary, I was given meaningful work that I loved. I was a valued member of the team and my thoughts on issues were treated as such.

What I wish was different

I wish I got paid

Advice

There is a lot to take in, but if you jump in head first and give it your all it will be the best experience.
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Management Intern

June - August 2018 • Milan, Province of Milan

What I liked

Experience working in a multicultural office setting Experience working in a government department

What I wish was different

Some of the day to day tasks were boring

Advice

Look in to what sections you're applying to so you can apply to a section that lines up with your interests the best
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Consular Affairs Intern

May - August 2018 • Quito, Pichincha Province

What I liked

I had the opportunity to meet the US Ambassador to Ecuador, speak directly with Foreign Service Officers, work within the Consular Affairs Section (processed and printed 9,000 US Visas), visited with Embassy officials Americans imprisoned abroad concerning legal rights,and worked on the first US Vice Presidential Visit to Ecuador in 30 years.

What I wish was different

As an unpaid position, it is highly inaccessible for students who are from low-income backgrounds. As an international internship through the US Department of State, it required me to go through the several month long security clearance process, book plane fights, comprehensive international health insurance, summer housing, transportation, and integrate into a new city.

Advice

Apply for grants!!! I applied through an additional highly competitive grant program, US Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, and received a majority of my funding through them.
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VSFS Intern

September 2020 • Honolulu, HI

What I liked

- Work at your own pace, flexible schedule - Friendly supervisors - Like-minded colleagues - Quarterly performance evaluations

What I wish was different

- Wider range of tasks - Smoother communication - Paid

Advice

The obscurity of the application process was the hardest part of this internship. The actual workload is manageable so long as you have a relatively set schedule. Also, your project mentor/supervisor actually cares about your career goals and they will help you where they can.
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Front Office/ BILAT Summer Hire

August - September 2020 • Brussels, Brussels-Capital

What I liked

The State Department employees were spectacular. They taught me about diplomacy, protocol, and countless other aspects of assisting the Ambassador. For example, how to properly introduce an Ambassador to another person!

What I wish was different

I wish I could have worked there longer. Sadly, the summer hire program was cut short because of COVID-19.

Advice

Go in with an open ear and a notepad. I learned so much within the first couple of days at the State Department that I never would have remembered if not for a pen, paper, and lots of bullet points.
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Department of State Intern

May - December 2019 • North Charleston, SC

What I liked

Learning how government did their job to give back to the country.

What I wish was different

University of Miami could offer more online course choice.

Advice

When ever I encounter the difficulties in the training, I always tell myself that I am blessed to be offer this opportunity. I need to give myself the chance to do it right.
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Research Intern

May - August 2020 • Washington, DC

What I liked

I was able to explore my specific interests within the capacity of the research project of which I was a part. My experience with the State Department during the spring semester allowed me to pursue a leadership position during the summer, and I was given substantial liberty over my approach to the research and engagements with other U.S. Government personnel.

What I wish was different

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was not able to complete this internship in-person, making networking much more difficult. Organizationally, the virtual nature of the internship made concrete work hours less rigid, leading to some long work days. This internship would have benefitted from a stricter work schedule.

Advice

Never be afraid to take on a task. Chances are you will figure out how to approach it as you go if you don't right at the beginning. Not only does this demonstrate initiative, but you will surprise yourself with just how capable you are at confronting the unknown.
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Seasonal Hire Intern

June - July 2020 • Seoul, South Korea

What I liked

It was a stellar position to be in, especially getting to work with many diplomats and engage with the ongoing COVID crisis in reporting to headquarters in DC on the status of COVID in Asia.

What I wish was different

COVID prevented getting an overall feel for the full capacity, but that was unavoidable.

Advice

Work hard and network while in this position, there are many successful people who you will be grateful to know later and who you can learn so much from!
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USFSIP Intern

June - August 2019 • Washington, DC

What I liked

The practical work experience and exposure to U.S. government.

What I wish was different

I wish I had taken advantage of people in other Bureaus more.

Advice

Learn how to write and do not be afraid to speak up.
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Political Affairs Intern

October 2020 • Kyiv, Kiev

What I liked

The team I worked with was absolutely amazing. They were always willing to answer my questions and they gave me actual work to do, not just data entry or filing tasks like you would find in some internships. I got to work on issues that I care about and that are directly connected to my studies. Overall it has been a really rewarding experience.

What I wish was different

The primary thing I wish had been different is having the opportunity to complete the Internship in person. However, due to COVID, we have all had to adapt and overcome in this moment of global upheaval.

Advice

I would say in some instances, and if you have the skills to, go a bit beyond what you were asked to do. For example, I was asked to research a topic that had a geographic component to it, so I threw together a couple of maps in Google Earth Pro to help the team actually see what I was talking about.
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USFSIP Intern

June 2021 • Washington, DC

What I liked

Rewarding Work Experience. Relevant to my field. Very helpful mentors. Flexibility to focus on what I wanted to.

What I wish was different

I wish it were in person.

Advice

Ask your supervisors to get you in contact with people you want to speak to and they will support you
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Executive Office and Public Affairs Summer Intern

June - August 2021 • Port Louis, Port Louis

What I liked

I liked how small the Embassy in Port Louis is (only around 16 FSOs). This allowed me to work with nearly all of the cones as well as some specialties, and learn a lot about the roles in each. I was also able to form good connections with the Charge d'Affairs and Deputy Chief of Mission, something that is uncommon for interns at a larger Embassy. In general, even though my workload was light, I felt productive and learned a lot.

What I wish was different

I wish it had taken place in person! This was obviously beyond the control of my supervisors, but it would have been cool to work in Port Louis. Beyond that, I wish that I was able to have been mandated a State Department laptop, that way I could access classified materials and help with projects I couldn't with only my own laptop.

Advice

I advise the next intern at Port Louis to take advantage of the small team and really get to know everyone! I got so much helpful advice from meeting with my colleagues. I also recommend you go in with an open mind about what cone you might like best; I did not think I would 'click' with the management cone as well as I did.
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Student Foreign Service Intern with the Environment, Science, Technology and Health Office

July - September 2021 • Copenhagen, Capital RegionDenmark

What I liked

I loved all of the people I got to talk to and the topics I got to learn about. It was very interesting seeing government work in action. It was also amazing getting to work with dedicated people in public service.

What I wish was different

It got moved to a virtual format due to the pandemic. I really wanted to be able to go abroad during college, but the pandemic has changed those plans twice now. I wish that something had been set up so that I would have the opportunity to visit the embassy later, after the pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

Advice

This is a great opportunity for someone not sure what they want to do when they graduate. There are many great people to talk to and get advice from.
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