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.”
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