Conner JoyceBy the end of my sophomore year, I decided that I wanted to intern for the U.S. Department of State. After researching internship positions in the department, I came away unsure of what set me apart as an applicant and whether it was even worthwhile to apply. So I scheduled an appointment with Career Services. I left the consultation with a definitive plan to best leverage my previous experience and specific tips to differentiate my application.

Now I am participating in the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program at the Department of State. The program spans two summers. The first summer, students work in a departmental bureau in Washington D.C., and the following year, they are posted in a U.S. embassy abroad. My domestic assignment is in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. This placement has given me unique insight into the political and economic issues facing this critical region. Equally beneficial has been the opportunity to participate in the bureaucratic process. By sitting in on meetings and contributing to papers, I have gained a better understanding of the State Department’s role in U.S foreign policy.

Within my first weeks at the State Department, I realized that the value of my Southwestern experience was more than just simply helping me secure my internship. Taking Middle East Politics and U.S. Foreign Policy with Professor of Political Science Bob Snyder prepared me to understand my internship in a broader context. My independent research afforded me the tools to study and write about regional issues. Southwestern’s small classroom settings readied me to contribute in a collaborative work environment. Collectively, my experiences at Southwestern have turned a great internship into a transformative experience.

Conner’s experience was made possible by a generous grant from the Moody Foundation.