Working For My Home Country of Portugal while Living in the United States

Joao Estaca, COL ’24, Lisbon, Portugal

This summer I worked as an intern at the Portuguese Embassy in Washington DC. This was my first experience working in a government job, especially tied to my home country. I had thought of a career in the diplomatic service for a long time and this internship put me in contact with officials with long careers in this area. If I had to sum up my summer experience, it would be characterized as learning, learning, learning. I had to use some of the skills that I have been developing in college and quickly adapt to a work environment, an example was transforming my academic writing into concise and accurate cables to be delivered to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Lisbon.

However, not everything was what I expected and this allowed me to grow a lot in two months. Despite being able to attend various meetings in international organizations and other bilateral organizations that Portugal is part of, I did not have access to a lot of information given that this was an initial experience. Moreover, I often had to manage my time to complete tasks for different officials in the embassy which required me to organize myself and deliver things on time.

Another crucial aspect of my experience was getting to live and know a different city, which I loved. Washington DC seemed like the perfect place for me as everyone was involved in politics somehow. In the residence that I lived during this summer, International Student House (which I highly recommend for all DC interns), I had insightful conversations with people from all around the world who came to DC because of their passion for politics and public service. We formed a tight knit community that was a great safety net in a city where I did not know anyone at first, they helped me navigate and discover the city, its museums, entertainment and restaurants. I would end this reflection by saying that I am glad that I took the chance and risked spending a summer not at home but creating a new home that I feel that I could come back in the future as I know that I want to continue my path in politics.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services