Written By Lauren Lind
Interning is an important start to guide you in the field you want to go into. This Summer, Senior Ashley Hickey, had a pretty amazing opportunity interning for the U.S. State Department in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Ashely is majoring in international affairs and getting a minor in business. She is also has an emphasis in French and is almost fluent in Spanish. Here is an exclusive look into her experience interning in Africa.
She had the rare opportunity to work alongside esteemed diplomats in a fascinating and unique country. During her time at the U.S. Embassy she had the pleasure of regularly meeting with the American ambassador, as well as a number of prominent politicians from the host country, Mauritania. She was assigned to the political and economic office, where she says she was warmly welcomed and found immense support in her two supervisors. She worked on “cables”, or brief reports intended for State Department use, relating mostly to political and human rights issues in Mauritania. She was also charged with writing an extended report covering the relationship between the United States and Mauritania from several analytical perspectives.
Overall, she was surprised both by the breadth of her responsibilities and by the level of trust imparted to her by the embassy, as it is uncommon for interns in most other organizations to have access to the information and people that she did. She never felt that she was made to do “busywork”, and most of what she did do was of actual consequence and use to the embassy’s mission.
In addition to maintaining a high degree of professionalism during the work day, she had to be mindful of her role as a diplomat even (or, perhaps especially) while out at social engagements after hours. This is important for all interns to remember no matter which company they are interning for. Another tip that she said is extremely important was practicing engaging in everyday diplomacy.
She only has positive things to say about her time with the State Department, and would recommend that any student with a sincere interest in international affairs or foreign policy apply for this “overseas intern” position. Be proactive, make connections, and chase your dreams.... it may lead you across the world!
(Contributors: Ashley Hickey)