Foreign Affairs Campus Coordinator at U.S. Department of State
over 2 years ago
I served as an intern at the Department of State working on political affairs in the Bureau of European Affairs. My office covered 10 different countries, so my tasks varied day by day depending on what was happening in those countries. Instead of being assigned to help any specific country desk officer, I was available to help with any projects the office might have.
In the morning, I would often read the cables sent from the embassies and consulates of our countries to stay up-to-date on all the details. In the beginning, it was a steep learning curve, as learning the political contexts for 10 European countries is not a fast process. However, through various projects I was able to catch on.
Many of my projects centered around speeches and remarks for department officials going to meetings with interlocutors from the other countries. These ranged from simple one on one meetings to strategic dialogue events. I helped to prepare a speech for a Deputy Assistant Secretary for a think tank event. I also was able to work on some of my own projects, including an information memo on new military developments in our countries for the Assistant Secretary who oversaw the bureau .
I also helped prepare Foreign Service Officers and new Ambassadors for their departure to their posts. I scheduled meetings and was often allowed to sit in on the interesting ones, as long as my security clearance allowed it. I also attended various think tank events throughout D.C. and provided readouts to my office to keep them up-to-date.
Additionally, I had free time in which I was able to attend special events, speeches, and activities organized specifically for interns by the Department.
The experience of a DOS intern varies greatly depending on whether you are at an embassy/consulate or Main State in D.C.
Former Political/Economic Intern at U.S. Department of State
over 2 years ago
The position was primarily research focused. In the mornings, I usually would go over local and national newspapers and pick out stories that I thought were relevant for reporting. I would then have a quick discussion with my supervisor, the Political/Economic Officer, and decide on an issue to write a Daily Activity Report (or DAR) to send back to Washington. The DAR would synthesize facts and opinions about the issue from the newspapers and then give me a chance to provide some analysis and input on the implications for US political and economic interests.
I was also in charge of broader research projects that would become diplomatic cables that were sent back to Washington. Some examples include projects on the softwood lumber dispute and trade in the auto industry. Working on these projects involved going through newspapers, policy briefs, books, and past cables to bring together the latest facts and perspectives about understanding the causes and consequences of these issues for US interests. This took up most of my time during the day.
I was also invited to attend and participate in diplomatic meetings with local business and political leaders, including a CEO and a former mayor. I also had the chance to attend social functions where diplomats from other countries would gather together and network.