Experiencing the Best of DC

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Hayley Boote, COL ’20

Washington, D.C. truly lived up to the myth of being a swamp this summer — but not in a political sense.  High temperatures and even higher humidity made my internship feel more like the Everglades than just 150 miles south of West Philly. Despite the near constant battle with frizzy hair, my D.C. experience was career-enlightening and exciting. D.C. in general is an exciting place for a young person right now, especially a young person interested in public service and politics. Some of my personal highlights were the 4th of July Celebration on the National Mall, the National Portrait Galleries, and discovering &pizza! Even with the excitement, it was truly my work that amazed me the most this summer.

            The U.S. State Department is known internationally as an organization that furthers US influence and policy goals. An internship at the U.S. Department of State offered me an unparalleled opportunity to work in the federal government in a learning capacity. As an undergraduate majoring in Political Science, this role allows me to gain real public policy experience in the place where U.S. foreign policy is made.  Simply, there is no other organization that can provide such an opportunity for learning.  The chance to work for such a renowned agency, while enhancing my experience in public service and communication, was singularly important for my personal career goals.

During my time at State I worked in the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, in the office of the U.S. Diplomacy Center.  The Center is an public/private initiative to inform the American public about the role of U.S. diplomacy historically and presently, through educational programs and a future museum. My office is nonpartisan and nonpolitical, meaning that we are only working for the mission of the U.S. government, not a particular agenda. As a communications and data analytics intern, I built surveys, create visualizations of our engagement data, wrote an foreign policy crisis simulation, facilitated educational programs and simulations, and helped plan a hackathon for college students and young coders.  All of these experiences really changed the game for me professionally; I had never before wrote with HTML or used Tableau, and by the end of the summer I had gained proficiency in skills I had never even known existed.  Even in areas in which I thought I was seasoned, like public speaking, I grew in way I could not have anticipated. Part of my job included facilitating foreign policy crisis simulations with students, educators, and scholars; acting as a chairwoman for a conference with different, feuding stakeholder groups trying to solve an international crisis together.  Keeping teams on track, trying to feed them breadcrumbs to get to a tenable solution,  and helping them to negotiate effectively were just a small part of the 180 minute, life-like simulation.  This experience gave me insight into how people negotiate and how they tried to persuade other teams, which was very unexpectedly valuable piece of my work as a student pursuing a psychology minor. The great thing about working for the federal government is that you are never bored — there is always a solution to a problem that you could be looking for. I learned first-hand this summer the long hours and challenging obstacles that our public servants endure.  The work ethic at State and other similar federal agencies is not commonly known, but was incredibly eye-opening for me. I loved being a part of that atmosphere and community, and the skills I learned only added to an all-around amazing experience.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.