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VSFS E-Internship (State Department)

Lizzie

Experience Information

Employer: State Department - U.S Embassy in Riyadh
Job Title: VSFS E-Intern
Major: International Relations
Received Credit?: Yes
Paid?: No

Description of the Organization

The State Department as a whole is the diplomatic arm of the government responsible for maintaining relations with countries throughout the world. Foreign Service officers advance American interests through diplomacy and promoting peace abroad. I specifically worked with the U.S Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The individuals I worked with were Foreign Service officers working in the embassy, supporting American interests in Saudi Arabia.

Description of the Tasks/Projects Completed

Unlike other internships in which I have participated, I was only responsible for one project - I was to interview Saudi students studying in the United States and ask them for their impressions of the U.S, what they miss about home and what job prospects are like back home. I was assigned this task because the U.S embassy in Riyadh is not allowed to approach students in the country so they relied on me to gather this information. I reached out using social media and existing contacts to gather these interviews. I utilized a small questionnaire I composed.

Skills/Knowledge Gained Through The Experience

I learned a lot about what it means to network and how to effectively leverage an existing network of contacts. My time in Saudi Arabia 2 years ago helped me gain some new friends from the region. I was able to reach out to them and leverage their knowledge and their friendships to gain new interviews. I also learned a lot about how to use social media to the best of its potential. Previously, I only really used social media for my own pleasure. However, I now see how it can have a very practical use in even professional settings.

Favorite Part of the Experience

I really enjoyed reading the responses and interacting with the students. It was very interesting to see what sorts of things they missed about home and what they love about the United States. Some were very favorable of the U.S and did not want to leave while others could not wait to return home. The diversity of opinions and experiences was fascinating.

How the Experience Influenced Future Career Goals

The experience gave me a more in-depth look at what it would be like to be a Foreign Service officer. Although jobs are hard to find in the Foreign Service, I still am inspired to take the FSO test after this experience. This experience also affirmed my desire to work with the Middle East and specifically those in the Gulf Region. The culture is distinct and even different from other regions in the Arab world. I would love to find some way to continue working in that region with the world.

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of GVSU.

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