It’s very surreal to step into the Harry S. Truman building every day, and realize that I was not only walking through same halls where Secretaries Madeline Albright and Collin Powell passed before, but that I was actually fulfilling my dream of working with diplomats on foreign policy issues.
The average bureau in the State Department is typically composed heavily of regional or country experts and foreign service officers, with the standard international relations/history/law/social science/area concentration background. One notable difference between other bureaus and the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs is that it probably has the highest concentration of science PhDs of the entire department, which makes for a critical (you can’t get away with anything), yet supportive environment.
Interning at the State Department has thus far exceeded my limited expectations, especially with how involved I actually am in the process. I’m sure under normal circumstances, interns would not have been able to work on these projects, but due to lack of sufficient personnel as a result of the hiring freeze, I’m am able to help compose documents and produce items that are utilized by ambassadors and other diplomats abroad. Surprisingly, there’s usually only one to two other people that review my work before it’s being sent up to the Deputy Assistant Secretary or to the embassies. The topics and the work sometimes get pretty intense, so I’ve been pushing myself to be efficient, yet effective, and produce quality work the first time through since there are very few chances for a redo.
I find that keeping an openmind, and having a can-do attitude makes things easier for both me, and the individuals I’m working with. I’m excited for the upcoming weeks and look forward to seeing what projects come my way!