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.
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