“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.”
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