Exploring the Foreign Service Abroad

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 Jorge Pendao, COL ’19

As I waited for my early departure in May, I nervously anticipated what the following 10 weeks would look like. After my two previous summers consisted of volunteering positions in a variety of fields, I knew that I wanted to explore a field directly related to a career I’m interested in. After applying seven months beforehand in October 2017, I was finally embarking on my internship in the International Narcotics & Law Enforcement section at the US Embassy in Lima.

For the internship, I was excited to learn more about work at an American embassy and the duties of a foreign service officer. Working under the INL Program Officer, who manages INL’s justice programs, seemed like a perfect opportunity to learn first-hand the work being done in this field I am interested in. It was also additionally exciting to be able to spend my summer in Peru where I could learn that much more about South America and the regional geopolitics.

Within the first week, I knew that the following weeks would be much more than I anticipated. Though I was quite nervous this first week because of all the security measures and the weight of working in a government position, I was immediately intrigued with the work I was doing. Though the name gives the impression of focusing on narcotics affairs, I quickly realized there was so much more everyone worked on. Whether it was the growing issue of illegal gold mining in the Madre de Dios region or the public corruption scandals in the Ministry of Justice, the office was always busy which meant I was as well. I had the fortune of sitting in on meetings with high-level Peruvian officials and writing a report on national issues that would be sent to Washington. In addition to working with my supervisor who explained the content of his work and the dynamics of the embassy, I believe all of the experiences, all of the work and all of the people have deeply helped me secure my interest in this field.

With regards to how the Career Service grant impacted my summer experience, I believe that the funding most definitely improved the overall experience. From a logistical perspective, the funding lifted a significant financial burden that I would have had otherwise. Because the internship was unpaid and in a different country, I would have had to pay for my flight, housing and all of my food which would have significantly challenged my ability to participate. However, with help from the funding, I didn’t have to worry about this, and I was able to focus on the actual experience without stressing about financial concerns.

After finishing the internship and having some time to reflect, I realize how helpful the funding was in easing the process and allowing me to participate in this amazing opportunity and confidently determine my interest in this career path. This summer experience was one I will definitely remember and take into consideration in my future career path.

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