By Tyronda Brown
Today marks the end of my first full two weeks in Washington, D.C. for the United States Foreign Service Internship Program (USFSIP). I am currently an intern in the third cohort for this fairly new program, and I can honestly say that not only am I surprised that I was selected to be a part of this but that I am truly thankful for the opportunity to work for the State Department. Oh, yes, this program is for and funded by the State Department, don’t hesitate to roll your eyes as I casually threw that in (wink, wink).
Aside from the training and career explorations, I honestly think this is an elaborate way of “wooing” us and convincing us that the State Department is the new “it” place to be. Well, little do they know that I had already decided that the State Department was my home career goal about two years ago. Whatever the case, the training has depth and is comprehensive and beneficial, the opportunity is amazing and the HR team, ambassadors and foreign service officers that we have spoken with are all exceptional.
The USFSIP is a two summer internship where we work the first summer in a bureau at the State Department, in Washington D.C. and the second summer, at an embassy overseas. It is a major opportunity and a remarkable experience for any student considering international political work for a career. Applications are found on USA Jobs and the requirements are also listed. The main qualifications include a GPA of at least a 3.2 and the ability to obtain a secret level security clearance. Without at least the two previously mentioned, nothing else matters. The clearance is a major factor, no major crimes and offenses, no drug use, no outrageous debt, and many more factors that I cannot even begin to comprehend, nor will I try.
The first week was essentially, what I like to call, “welcome week”. We got our ID badges, ventured around D.C and gracefully found our way to the cafeteria in the State Department. We met some pretty important officials, swore in and got to know our roommates. If I haven’t mentioned before, this internship is paid with travel and housing covered, which is very much appreciated seeing that D.C. is very expensive. Just make sure that if you have an apartment and other expenses back home, that you have a way to pay for them. The pay is good but you will need extra to stay on top of your obligated expenses. Now back to the fun stuff, the second week I have dubbed, “we’re the best week”. This week is when we really get into deeper training, some follow ups to last week’s agency writing training and we continue to meet amazing individuals as well as learn more about the job. We learn about the lifestyle, opportunities and responsibilities for a Foreign Service officer in conjunction with partnerships that State has with other federal agencies. We met with USAID and figured out that those who work for State as well as USAID have an invested care and connection for the safety, care and diplomatic ties between the Unites States and international community.
We don’t only work and read though, the fun is still happening after the training and on the weekends. We occasionally venture out into D.C. to see the monuments and museums; we go to parades, concerts, live bands and restaurants. Some of us know exactly where we are and others, and by “others” I mean me, get lost on the metro. So far I have had a great time, my roommates and classmates are mature, influential and impressive students and the housing has made us all feel like trusted professionals with bright futures. There isn’t much I can say now, but what I will say is when this application pens up again in October, trust me and apply. It is entirely worth it.