From Behind the Screen to Behind the Scenes: Working on Digital Engagement at State

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A woman carrying an infant on her back looks at a backdrop featuring a female employee of the State Department. To the right of that backdrop a stroller sits in front of an iPad with headphones.
Covering the "Faces of Diplomacy" exhibition at the Smithsonian's Spark!Lab.

From Behind the Screen to Behind the Scenes: Working on Digital Engagement at State

This summer, I served as an intern for the Office of Digital Engagement, which operates within the Bureau of Public Affairs. This office maintains DipNote, the Department’s official blog, as well as the Department’s flagship social media accounts and video streaming services. 

After interning at a large international development organization on the digital team, I knew I wanted to continue working in the communications field when I applied for a State Department internship. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the Office of Digital Engagement. I learned a great deal about the importance of digital communication in informing the public, both in the United States and overseas, about the State Department’s activities. Every day, the State Department’s employees are working hard to advance the United States’ foreign policy priorities. The Department’s DipNote blog and social media efforts help to inform the public about the work the State Department is doing around the world. 

One of my favorite experiences as an intern was attending the preview of the U.S. Diplomacy Center’s “Faces of Diplomacy” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. By shadowing my colleagues during the event, I learned a great deal about how to tell a compelling story via social media. Helping with the digital outreach surrounding that event and how we’re using visual storytelling made me think about the future of digital engagement within the State Department. The team I worked with is excited to continue their efforts to enhance the Department’s presence online and to reach new audiences with information about the Department’s work, as they celebrate the 10th anniversary of DipNote this month and a decade of the Department on Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube this year. 

Working at the State Department provided me indispensable experience in working together as a team to produce compelling content on social media and the blog, and I am confident that these skills will be prove valuable during my future career. My summer internship was a fantastic learning experience for me, and I would highly recommend interning at the State Department for college students interested in foreign policy. The deadline for summer 2018 internships is October 5, 2017. To apply, visit

About the Author: Emily Harwell served as an intern in the Office of Digital Engagement in the Bureau of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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