I’ve been working in Public Affairs for 10 weeks now, but the time has flown by. I’m sad my time here is up, but it’s been a great experience. If you’re thinking about applying for an internship like mine, here are 10 things you should know about interning at the State Department:
1. You actually matter at State. Every intern I know here is important to his or her office. My boss and I had a running joke about him expecting me to bring him coffee, but I actually spent my time writing and editing for DipNote and working on the website.
2. Your work matters. No matter what position you hold in the State Department, you will be doing work that has a real effect on peoples’ lives.
3. They treat you well. Former Secretary Condoleezza Rice -- herself, a former State Department intern -- told her employees to be nice to interns because they could become Secretary of State one day, like she did. Everyone I’ve met has taken that advice to heart.
4. You get an inside look at diplomacy. I’ve seen Secretary of State John Kerry speak many times and been inside the Ben Franklin Room, the Treaty Room, and the Operations Center.
5. You will learn a lot about foreign policy. No matter what you’re doing, you’re surrounded by people whose job is to pay close attention to what’s going on in the world, and you’re helping them do it.
6. You’ll also learn about how the government works. Any aspiring public servant would benefit from interning at State. After my time here, I see the government not as a monolithic bureaucracy but as a vast collection of programs which are, believe it or not, designed to help people.
7. Your work ties in with your studies no matter what you do. I didn’t think my one year of Turkish classes would be relevant to my job working with social media, but I got to help report on Turkish-language media reaction by doing research on Twitter.
8. You’ll meet interesting people because so many of them come through the State Department every day. I've met folks ranging from employees of Facebook to members of the Kosovar Foreign Ministry.
9. You’ll have a fun summer. DC is a great place for college-aged kids to be -- hence all the colleges here. And if you’re working at a diplomatic post abroad, then lucky you!
10. You’ll want to come back. At least I want to, and I’m not alone. A number of current employees started out as interns, and that doesn’t happen by accident -- it’s a great place to work.