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Events, alumni networking, courses, and internships for Penn students on campus and in D.C.

Interning at State

  • 15 State Department: Final Thoughts

    March 24, 2020

  • 14 State Department: My Goals

    So, what is the point of it all?

  • 13 State Department: The People You'll Meet

    I have talked at length about the work I did during my internship, but have so far not mentioned much about the people I have worked with while interning. Let’s correct that.

  • 12 Day to Day at State: Writing Experience

    As promised, I’ll finish up talking about the projects I worked on during my internship to give you a full picture of the type of tasks you might work on. If you remember that Bureau of Educational Cultural Affairs (ECA) Town Hall I participated in and the functional bureau strategy (those goals that tie the function of the bureau to the larger U.S. foreign policy objectives)... Well, in any case, I had to update an internal ECA website with the update functional bureau strategy. I had never worked on a website interface, and the job was not overly technical, but interesting nevertheless.

  • 11 Day to Day at State: Managing Projects

    My internship overlapped with a fall intern who had gotten a late start because his security clearance had been delayed. He did not get a chance to finish a project he was working on before he left, so I took over for him.

  • 10 Day to Day at State: Consultations

    In the first few weeks, I worked on setting up consultations for post officers with bureau program officers. Let me explain. As a reminder, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) manages all State Department-funded exchange programs, which includes both American and foreign participants. The bureau’s programs are quite expansive and cover a broad scope, ranging from the titular Fulbright program (which itself consists of different types of programs) to sports envoys.

  • 9 State Department Meetings

    Before the start of my internship, I wondered about the type of work I would do, and whether or not I would

    a) be really busy


    b) have little to do

    My experience has oscillated between the two, but from my conversations with current and previous interns, the internship experience varies from office to office and from day to day. Sometimes there’s a lull in action, and sometimes I have worked 11-hour days.

  • 8 State Department First Week

    One question that came up even during the interview was the question of availability. To show my interest in the internship, I told my interviewer that I was willing to work 40 hours per week. As far as I can tell, how your schedule turns out in the end is a combination of factors. Among the factors are how much you’re willing to put in for the internship in reality and how much your office relies on interns. On my first day, I said upfront that I would leave at 5:00; my working assumption was that I would work a standard 9-to-5 schedule.

  • 7 State Department First Day

    Surprisingly, I, a Ukrainian immigrant who visits family in Ukraine frequently, received my security clearance before the two born and raised Americans in the cohort who also applied for internships at State. The security clearance process can be tough. A former intern that I spoke to decided to take the risk and accept a position at the Korea desk, even though she was Korean. Even after receiving a security clearance, the State Department notified her at the last minute, right before she was set to start, that she would be unable work at the Korea desk.

  • 6 State Department Decision Time

    On Monday, the weekend after my interview with the Central Europe Office, I had the interview with the Policy Office. The same day, the Policy Officer offered me a position at the office and gave me a liberal singular day to decide. Now, I was in quite the predicament. Should I wait for the Central Europe Office to get back to me? Should I wait for other offices to contact me? Which office do I prefer? I decided, as before, to call for emergency help. On Monday, while at work, I scheduled a call with Dr. Martinez and reached out to the State Department contact from before.