Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s hiring freeze was, in a way, both a blessing and a curse. Even though it was lifted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo back in May, it’s been difficult to restore the State Department to its full capacity. It’s unfortunate that I was unable to see the full force of the State Department in Action; however, having said that, due to the lack of personnel, interns actually do substantial work. As a result, I’ve also been able to interact much more often and work much more closely with all five teams in my office.
I always like knowing who my colleagues are, their portfolio and how they work, but also what each individual is like as a person. Sure, I can look up someone on LinkedIn, but there’s only so much you can understand from reading about a person and hearing about them. Something that I discovered worked really well for me is to go for casual coffees or lunches with the individuals I work with first, and establishing a genuine relationship with them.
I’ve noticed that some interns only spend time getting to know office directors, assistant secretaries, ambassadors – the “important” people. While I understand what drives that pursuit, I think that getting to know individuals at all levels in their career and in the hierarchy is also fun and worthwhile; they’re the ones that have more recent experience entering the field, and they’re the ones working on cool projects, instead of having more managerial/administrative tasks. Plus, you never know where you would find your next mentor, and its good to establish a support system.
I think I’ve been doing pretty well at meeting my goal of getting two coffees per week with new people I meet. For the next couple of weeks, I’ll try reaching out to individuals from NGOs and other agencies that I’ve meet in meetings and briefings I have attended.