Gain Professional Experience and Immerse Yourself in a Foreign Culture
I felt like I had clicked my heels three times and come to a home away from home every morning as I walked through the doors at the Embassy of Australia in Washington.
Musical Aussie accents, Tim Tam’s at lunch, and Aboriginal art exhibits made me wonder if I had entered without a visa. In fact I was a temporary employee, a public affairs unpaid intern for three months during the summer in order to immerse
myself in the culture of the country where I planned to study the next spring.
The most useful tool I used during my internship search at the time was PrincetonReview.com, though there are many more websites with such information popping up each day. I was able to search for a specific location (the district) and job description
(something related to my major, communication). When the Embassy of Australia popped up I thought it was a long shot, because only two of 50-100 applicants are accepted per session.
Enthusiasm is important when seeking a job anywhere, but when applying to an embassy it is important to know at least basic information about the country. As an embassy employee you are representing that country as much as
any other employee in the building and it is important to be knowledgeable about your surroundings and the country’s culture.
During the summer I read the Australian news every day. Working at the embassy allowed me to escape the U.S. for six hours per day and learn about what was going on across the planet.
After reading the daily Australian and U.S. news I usually helped prepare a PowerPoint presentation for school kids who visited the embassy as part of a school retreat. Depending on whether or not an embassy event was in
the works, I would attend weekly meetings to listen in on planning and see what I could do to help. Usually there were smaller tasks that needed to be done such as creating visitors’ guides.
The most exciting event in which I participated was the visit of the Australian prime minister. As the only American among countless Australian media and staff, I felt comfortable and was kept busy taking pictures
and recording door-stop interviews at famous sites such as the Capitol. As an intern, you will not be exposed to top-secret information, but you are on the inside when it comes to special events.
Government work is a useful addition to a resume. As an embassy employee you will gain invaluable knowledge while spending your summer in a culturally diverse workplace.