My internship at the State Department focused on supporting congressional advisors in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs. I had a variety of tasks from writing biographies about members of congress, to contacting senators and representatives offices to get questions prior to briefings, sitting in on briefings and writing summaries about what was said, there were a number of other opportunities like giving presentations on life skills and organizing team bonding activities that other interns took advantage of too. There was a lot of flexibility in the work that I was able to do, in the beginning of my internship I was given the chance to talk to one of the Deputy Assistant Secretaries for the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and I got to go over my goals for the internship and my career goals so he would provide opportunities that fit with those goals. Just as an example I told him that I wanted to work on networking while I was there so he helped me get involved with a networking project that another one of the interns was working on. My supervisors really understood that interns are there to work on skills and to improve their resumes so they try to give you important work that helps them to their jobs, not just stuff to fill time.
My experiences at Quinnipiac prepared me pretty well for the work that I did at the State Department. A lot of the work I did was focused on gathering information online and summarizing information. As a history major I’ve been taught how to optimize my use of search engines and my ability as a writer has been refined. Both of these abilities helped in the work I did and at the end of my internship I was praised on my analysis and my communication. The variety of courses I’ve taken at Quinnipiac also prepared me with necessary background information, considering that the work I was doing was concerned with many different parts of the world the information I learned in my classes gave me familiarity with the areas so I never felt out of my depth and some of the other interns I worked with complimented me on information I knew that I had been taught in my classes here at Quinnipiac. The classes I’ve taken on Chinese history and Korean history were especially helpful as Southeast Asia is one of the fastest developing parts of the world and there was a lot of work that had to be done that related to that area.
This internship has helped me recognize some of my strengths and weaknesses as well. Being a history major I wasn’t really familiar with working in an office like environment. I wasn’t familiar with managing people, I never really had to work with multiple people on long term projects as a part of a team outside of a few presentations for class, and I had never had so many people that I could work with and use as resources. I wanted to get as much as possible out of this internship so I found myself volunteering for as much as I could handle. This meant that I got the chance to interact with many new people all who were extremely capable. When I was presented the opportunity to manage a project collecting biographies for around 200 senators and representatives I was able to coordinate closely with multiple congressional advisors in order to get the biographies completed on time which were then used so the state department could easily brief members of congress and their staffs. I also worked on collecting information on briefings that I would send to the one of the Deputy Assistant Secretaries of the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and a different similar project that was sent to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Legislative Affairs that was used to brief the Secretary of State. These helped me learn the organization of the State Department and considering that I want to pursue a career in the State Department it’s information that could definitely help me in my career going forward.
This experience has definitely helped me refine the path I want to take in my career. Interning in the State Department was definitely the best opportunity I have had in college even though it was limited because it could only be offered virtually. I love staying up to date with current events and this career path requires staying constantly up to date with what’s happening throughout the world. I was actually able to find this internship on my own outside of the schools resources so something I would advise for future students would be to not be afraid to look around and that if they have a particular interest do not be afraid to explore it. My professors, advisor, and dean were all really accommodating and helped to make sure I got the credits for my internship and that I had enough time to be able to balance between my classwork and my internship even though it was outside of the school’s formal internship opportunities.