As promised, I’ll finish up talking about the projects I worked on during my internship to give you a full picture of the type of tasks you might work on. If you remember that Bureau of Educational Cultural Affairs (ECA) Town Hall I participated in and the functional bureau strategy (those goals that tie the function of the bureau to the larger U.S. foreign policy objectives)… Well, in any case, I had to update an internal ECA website with the update functional bureau strategy. I had never worked on a website interface, and the job was not overly technical, but interesting nevertheless. Another project related to a grant proposal. ECA works with a variety of implementing partner organizations to run programs. Partner organizations submit applications for grant funding, and the Assistant Secretary (A/S) decides whether to allot funding, Beforehand, a panel advises the A/S. In the last few days of my internship, I helped review the application and provide feedback for the panel.

Aside from different engaging projects and events, an internship at State provides useful writing experience. As I have noted in earlier posts, writing meeting notes is a standard task and harder than it seems. In addition, I was asked to write remarks for the A/S on several occasions. Writing remarks involves collecting information on the event the A/S was scheduled to attend, seeking input from other officers and offices who have equities in the event, conducting research on the subject matter, and looking at material from similar events for guidance. The goal is to provide a well-written, efficient set of remarks that, in addition to mirroring the voice of the A/S, also communicates an ECA policy message, keeping in mind the audience and type of event. For one event, after writing the remarks I accompanied the A/S to the event as her control officer. I motor-pooled with the A/S to an embassy reception, (making sure the driver was ready both going and departing from the embassy), met the ambassador, took pictures of the A/S, and ate a fabulous dinner. The reception was in the evening, but I did not mind coming in late to attend. I recommend taking advantage of any such opportunities, if possible.

I also got some experience writing social media professionally. I was asked to write a social media story for a campaign on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I had never written a social media post for a job before, or for that matter, much in my personal life. The task was another useful writing experience, condensing a large volume of information to a few sound bites. In the process, I got to learn about the accomplishments of a sports envoy who was improving access of persons with disabilities to sports.

The variety of assignments that I worked on while at State, large or small, was the best primer on the jobs of diplomats I could have gotten and beats any description or mission statement that you can read in a handout. Seeing the people in action, meeting them, and working alongside them is what grounds the nebulous jobs of State officials in firm reality.

In the next post, I will talk about the people at State.