About the Author: Erica King (second row, far right, above) is a member of the 2008 Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship cohort and served as DipNote's 2010 summer editorial assistant.
I was supposed to be packing my belongings and driving home for the summer, but I decided to take a break. I opened my laptop and refreshed my e-mail inbox, and there was the e-mail that changed everything: I was chosen as a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow. I was 19 years old and was just offered the career opportunity of a lifetime. I would travel, learn new languages and new cultures, and represent the United States abroad.
According to the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship program's mission, “The Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship seeks to recruit talented students in academic programs relevant to international affairs, political and economic analysis, administration, management, and science policy. The goal is to attract outstanding students from all ethnic, racial, and social backgrounds who have an interest in pursuing a Foreign Service career in the U.S. Department of State. The Program develops a source of trained men and women from academic disciplines representing the skill needs of the Department, who are dedicated to representing America's interests abroad.”
One of the program's components is a summer internship at the Department of State. I recently completed my internship in the Bureau of Public Affairs, and I worked with the DipNote team on State's social media platforms. I enjoyed my time at State and with the DipNote team. My team allowed me to take the lead on the Department's YouTube channel, develop a tag taxonomy, and research all the world leaders who use Twitter. I really appreciate the fact that the Pickering program includes an internship component, as I learned valuable lessons about teamwork, professionalism, and communication.
The Thomas R. Pickering program has equipped me with the skills and resources to become a diplomat in the future. I value the program's purpose and commitment to the success of all its students, and I am proud to be part of a program that brings together so many talented students -- my future colleagues.
Undergraduate students may apply for the Pickering program in the spring semester of their junior year in college -- eligibility and selection requirements are here. The 2011 Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship application deadline is February 9, 2011. Fellowships are also available for prospective graduate students. Please visit careers.state.gov for more information about student internships and fellowships at the U.S. Department of State.