My Summer at State

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The Harry S. Truman Building, headquarters for the State Department, is seen in Washington, D.C.
The Harry S. Truman Building, headquarters of the Department of State in Washington, D.C.

My Summer at State

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern for the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Throughout my academic career and previous internships, working for the State Department was always my goal, and I had built my resume with that in mind.

One of the first things I discovered when I received the offer to work at the U.S. Department of State (also referred to by some simply as ‘State’) and began to share the news with others is the average American does not know what State is or what it does. In fact, the most common question I received was "which state do you work for?" What I quickly realized was even I, someone who has wanted to work at the State Department for years, was not fully aware of the scope of the agency's work.

At the State Department, I worked on a variety of issues related to transnational crime and drug trafficking. Specifically, I was assigned to public affairs and drug demand reduction programs. I learned how to write memorandums to brief other sections of the department and senior leadership on INL issues. I wrote guidance on various issues for department employees to use when speaking to the press.  I also had the opportunity to produce project proposals, and coordinate with other governmental agencies on INL issues. 

As I reflect on my internship, I am really glad I was offered a position in INL, because I was able to see firsthand the significantly important role diplomacy plays in combating drug trafficking, especially as the U.S. itself deals with an opioid crisis claiming thousands of lives. Drug trafficking affects many countries and, therefore, requires an internationally-coordinated response. That is why INL assists other countries in strengthening their law enforcement and justice sectors as well as increase their knowledge of treatment and prevention of substance use disorders. INL also works with international organizations, including the United Nations, on behalf of the United States to internationally control precursors to dangerous drugs such as fentanyl. In fact, in 2017, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to restrict fentanyl precursors, helping to limit the availability of the chemicals to illegal drug traffickers. 

The work INL does is incredibly important and can help to save lives. That is why I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to contribute to some really dynamic photos illustrating the work of INL to the United States Diplomacy Center, a museum dedicated to telling the story of American diplomacy which is being built at the State Department. This was one of my favorite projects because I could see the lasting impact my efforts would have. I am very passionate about the museum's purpose, as I believe Americans should be aware and proud of our accomplishments in international diplomacy. But most of all I am very proud to have had the opportunity to serve at the State Department this summer and play a role in this important work that is making a difference all over the world. 

About the Author: Allison Greenberg served as a summer intern in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the Department of State.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.