Reyada Atanasio ’17 is seriously considering a Foreign Service career, and is in the process of applying for fellowships that could help her achieve this. But, as a government major specializing in international relations and Spanish, she is also flirting with the idea of working for a Washington, D.C., think tank. Whichever path she chooses, it is likely that her experience over the summer interning at the US State Department will prove invaluable.
How did you get this internship?
The US Department of State hosts student interns three times a year, and some of those students get the opportunity to work in American embassies and consulates around the world. I was originally selected to intern at the US Embassy in Madrid, Spain, where I spent the last academic year studying abroad. However, my security clearance took a while to come through, and by the time it did, I had already accepted a position interning at the State Department in Washington, D.C., which has been a great experience.
Describe what you’ve been doing at the State Department?
This summer I interned for the Bureau of International Organizations Office of Public Affairs, Planning and Coordination (IO/PPC). My responsibilities included assisting with the development and clearance process of press guidance and other department communique; creating engaging content for the bureau’s social media and website; carrying out individual research projects; and attending meetings.
In addition to my work within the office, I also had the opportunity to represent the bureau at various events in the Washington area. I had the privilege to watch senior- level State Department and United Nations officials, as well as high-level foreign officials, speak at engagements hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace, Council on Foreign Relations, and Stimson Center among other organizations. Other honors included the chance to watch Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice speak at events hosted at the State Department.
What have you learned?
Aside from from refining my research and communication skills, this internship has given me insight into the functions of the State Department, both internally as well as the work it coordinates with other countries and international organizations—namely the United Nations—in addressing global crises. IO/PPC works with multiple different bureaus, posts, and international organizations in the development and clearance of department communique; the planning of events, and other tasks it carries out. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work alongside and interview many Foreign Service Officers. As a result, I received raw, unfiltered insight into the Foreign Service—including the benefits and challenges—and advice on the diverse routes I could take to join the Foreign Service. The satisfaction that all of the officers had with their careers, with some having served for over 20 years, has inspired me to consider a career in the Foreign Service.
This internship has also allowed me to stay informed about many of the world’s most pressing issues, varying from the conflict in Syria to the economic and political crisis in Venezuela and clashes in South Sudan.
How will you use what you have learned in your further studies?
As a government and legal studies major specializing in international relations and Spanish, this internship has further reinforced my interest in the field. I know that learning more about the US stance on different foreign policy issues will definitely aid in research projects I conduct during the remainder of my time at Bowdoin and during my future graduate studies.
This was an unpaid internship. Were you able to get financial help from any sources?
I was only able to pursue this internship thanks to the help of the Richard B. ’62 and Sabra Ladd Government Internship grant awarded to me by Bowdoin Career Planning.
Please note: the views expressed above are Reyada’s own and not necessarily those of the State Department.