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Category: Intern Spotlights

Intern Spotlight: Cristina Goerdt

Intern Spotlight: Cristina Goerdt

“What I take from the responsibility of an internship is the importance of the little things–dress code, showing up on time, being polite, turning in work on time–and how they lead to big things,” Cristina Goerdt said about her internship in the summer of 2018. A UD junior majoring in history and politics, Goerdt was a Public Diplomacy intern at the US Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.

During her internship at the Embassy, Goerdt did research for and ran social media campaigns, photographed and wrote on official events, and made contributions to the Embassy’s website such as features on Dutch Fulbright Scholarship applicants.

The internship was a learning experience in several regards for Goerdt. Her assignments gave her experience in practical, real-world research and practice on concision, focus, and clarity in her writing. She found that the necessary research in her internship differed greatly from academic research; she had been accustomed to “researching on platforms such as JSTOR, but this research is a different kind. It is looking at companies you could partner with or looking for products.” She also described how it was interesting to observe culture in the workplace, “how much, say, the United States has abroad and how diplomacy is not something that you learn in textbooks. Real diplomacy is demonstrated in ways like the celebration of Dutch-French Friendship Day.”

Internships often provide some clarity and guidance in career choice. After this summer, Goerdt said that she is considering journalism more seriously and looking at a career in the State Department. The exposure to the political domain, networking opportunities, and experience with information gathering and synthesis were all valuable aspects of her internship.

Goerd highlighted her skills and experience in journalism, social media, and research when applying for the internship. Goerdt encouraged, “Don’t be scared to apply because you never know. Many people are discouraged before even trying to apply.”

When writing an essay for an internship application, she recommended focusing on your interests and what is important to you. While a company may be looking for a certain skill set, they also want to see that an intern demonstrates the capacity to learn new things. “I didn’t expect the variety of tasks I was asked to do and the amount of responsibility they gave me as an intern,” Goerdt said. “I also learned the importance of taking initiative. I continually asked for more work to do, which provided me with the opportunity to work on projects and learn skills I would not have otherwise learned.”

Goerdt enjoyed the internship so much that she has applied to work at the Embassy in Paris and several other State Department jobs for the summer of 2019.

Now is a good time for undergraduates to consider internships for the next summer, because many require early application deadlines. To schedule an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Marquel Plavan

Intern Spotlight: Marquel Plavan

“Being able to work in a foreign country is eye-opening,” Marquel Plavan remarked on her experience in Italy this past summer. Plavan, a senior Literature major at the University of Dallas, was a Public Affairs intern at the United States Consulate to Milan.

During her internship, Plavan routinely researched potential speakers for upcoming programs, events, and organizations to be sponsored by the State Department, and assisted in drafting a plan for the next year.  A major part of the experience was also networking. She would attend staff meetings and accompany Public Affair Officers in their endeavors to recruit speakers. Plavan remarked that this internship gave interns license to “get what you want out of it.” She had some freedom to work in an area of interest, and so she was able to “find a niche in an internship that wasn’t necessarily her cup of tea.” For Plavan, that niche was journalism. As part of a project, she recruited a speaker on slow journalism, the focus of which is “an authentic and diligent writing process and the return of truth to the forefront of journalism, instead of giving the quickest account of news.” Plavan edited the English writing of her fellow Italian interns, observed how journalism differs in Italy than in the United States, and strengthened her writing skills over the summer.

Plavan remarked on the lengthy application process and extensive security clearance process, but several past experiences prepared her for the challenge of this internship experience. Plavan held previous internships with Dallas magazines and is currently the Arts and Culture editor for the University News. A strong GPA and a semester abroad in Rome further strengthened her application. Plavan also mentioned, “UD connections make all the difference!” Because of previous UD student interns, UD has a growing relationship with the Consulate.

For those considering this internship or a similar one, Plavan recommended keeping a few things in mind. “If you are applying abroad, it can be expensive! But it is a wonderful experience and if you’re passionate about travelling, it’s worth it. Also, knowing as much Italian as possible would help!” Plavan also suggested talking to anyone who has done the internship before, so that “you can go into it with your eyes more open.”

To schedule an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Yeabkal Wubshit

Intern Spotlight: Yeabkal Wubshit

Some of the most rewarding internship experiences are those that both implement already-learned skills and contribute to personal and intellectual growth in ways that an academic setting cannot stimulate. Yeabkal Wubshit, a junior Computer Science major, held an internship in which he was able to apply his knowledge on a real-world platform. Wubshit was an Engineering Practicum Intern with Google in Sunnyvale, California, in the summer of 2018. His primary responsibilities included building libraries for verification of Google service accounts, and ensuring the authentication and authorization of service accounts.

Wubshit described his experience as the “best internship, because you work with some of the best computer science specialists in the world, you do something significant, and you get a good experience with working with others in a relaxed environment. Everyone is very excited to be there and very passionate.”

450 out of 50,000 applicants are accepted for this internship with Google, making the acceptance rate less than one percent, but Wubshit made a competitive candidate. He had conducted an on-campus project with NASA and other personal projects on mobile applications, and he is a member of the soccer team and the Programming Team. After the initial application on the Google home site, Wubshit had two highly technical phone interviews, including doing online coding over the phone.

One unexpected aspect of the internship, in Wubshit’s opinion, was the level of responsibility and freedom afforded to Google’s interns.  While it was overwhelming at the beginning, he remarked that helpful coworkers, great resources, and a very positive environment all supported him. Accustomed to projects in an academic setting, he appreciated the challenge an internship in the computer science field presented: “If you write just one extra line of code, it could cost your company a million dollars, whereas it wouldn’t matter if you messed up in an academic setting.  Whatever you do truly matters and is being used everywhere.” Wubshit expressed how gratifying it was to be so involved. “It’s crazy to think that part of my project is being used millions of times every second. It’s awesome to think I am a part of something being used worldwide.”

Wubshit enjoyed the internship so much that he has applied again for summer 2019, looking forward to making even bigger steps in pursuit of a career in software engineering.

Wubshit offered several pieces of advice for undergraduate students considering an internship, especially one in computer science: “It is important to stay open-minded and be able to adapt. Products may change in this field and you can’t be discouraged by that.” Being passionate about what you do and using the opportunities that come your way are key. He also quoted the application as one of the biggest mental roadblocks for college students in the internship process. “There is no way you’ll get there without applying. You have to believe in yourself. You have to like what you’re doing, perform your best, and present your best self.”

For more information about internships or to make an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Paul Patton

Intern Spotlight: Paul Patton

An internship can be a fantastic opportunity to gain real world work experience, as well as a chance to get to know a new city or country. Paul Patton, a senior Economics major at UD, held such an internship in the summer of 2018 in Rome with the United States Embassy to the Holy See.

Patton provided support for the Embassy’s political and economic officers by preparing background briefing memos, attending meetings, taking notes, and drafting official memos to be sent back to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

Patton became aware of the internship through one of the OPCD’s career and internship postings. The Embassy often reaches out to Catholic universities, such as University of Dallas, because its proximity to the Vatican appeals to students. With the increasing number of UD students who intern there over the years, UD has a growing relationship with the Embassy.

While the application on usajobs.gov was relatively simple, Patton said the security clearance process was extensive and complicated, lasting for months. A competitive candidate, Patton stood out amongst other applicants on account of his GPA, experience travelling abroad, campus involvement in student government and other clubs, and work experience. Paul describes himself as “an example of not having all of boxes on my resume checked”, but still being worthy of getting, and succeeding in, this internship position.

Highly recommending this internship position to others, Patton said it was “an amazing experience overall. Seeing how diplomacy works on a firsthand level is an experience that can’t be learned elsewhere.” The level of responsibility that was granted to him was unexpected, but “it was gratifying being trusted.” Because the Embassy is on the smaller side, they truly depend on their interns. Besides the work itself, 90 days of living in Rome is a great perk!

Patton had several words of advice for those considering an internship: “It is important to be proactive and be willing to ask if you don’t know how to do something. Clarify first, instead of having to clean up mistakes.” It was unexpected for Patton to notice how kind, approachable, and helpful everyone in the workplace was.

Already interested in foreign service, the experience Patton gained at the U.S. Embassy last summer “piqued his interest” and provided clarity on a line of work he had been considering after graduation. Getting firsthand experience through observation and hands-on involvement provides an understanding of what a future career actually entails and allows students and graduates to “go into it with eyes more open.”

For more information about internships or to make an appointment with a career advisor, click here.

Intern Spotlight: Valeria Hernandez

Intern Spotlight: Valeria Hernandez

Summertime can be the ideal time for college students to hold an internship, in order to gain experience in their field of interest and to build their resume. Valeria Hernandez spent this past summer in Washington, D.C., working as an intern at the U.S. Department of State. She was part of the Post Management Office for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, providing management support for foreign embassies. She would draft and send innovation memos for the Assistant Secretary of State, compute Business Process Maps, and do statistical analysis aimed at increasing the efficiency of the European Fleet.

Hernandez, a Psychology major, found the internship through a search on usajobs.gov. She had wanted experience in public diplomacy, something geared towards international relations, and her mindset when searching for the right internship was to dream big. She thought, “If I knew I could succeed at anything, what would I do? I had nothing to lose.” Hernandez expressed that college students tend to hold themselves back, that they don’t reach for goals they could well be suited for: “We tend to put limits on our own skills; we are our own detractors.”  She decided to test herself in this internship, and the positive experience was a verification of her own abilities and skills, giving her confidence for future pursuits.

The year-long application process was challenging. Although Hernandez applied the summer of 2017, she did not receive clearance until May 2018, when she was told that she was expected in D.C. the following week for the start of the program.  The screening process was extensive, but Hernandez made a competitive candidate for several reasons.  Strong academic performance, study and travel abroad experience from the UD Rome semester, knowledge of three languages, past management-training internships, a liberal arts education, and club leadership on campus were all qualifications that strengthened Hernandez’ application.

One of the biggest lessons Hernandez gained through this experience was learning about the power of the mindset and belief in individual ability. Realizing you actually are deserving of your internship, not just lucky to have gotten it, is an important step in believing that you are capable of achieving what you set out to do in the professional world. Employers appreciate a diverse workforce and encourage different backgrounds, meaning you should promote whatever makes you unique as a person and prospective employee. Your passions and commitment to those passions will make you stand out.

This internship has opened the door to more opportunities for Hernandez, including acting as the Public Affair Coordinator for the U.S. Department of State for UD, and she feels much better equipped for the future with this internship experience under her belt.

To make an appointment with a career counselor, click here.