University of Wisconsin–Madison

Interning, Studying, and Traveling Abroad!

I never thought that I would have the opportunity to so an internship while I was studying abroad. For me, it always seemed like I had to choose between them since nowadays some internships are pretty costly. Thanks to UW Madison’s GoGlobal program and Twitter Feed, I found out about the VSFS program. I applied for the program before I left the US and in September I was interviewed via Skype and then by some miracle, I was hired!

My internship is with the Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) program run by the US Department of State. The program was created by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009 as an effort to combine technology and global diplomacy while incorporating the youth of America.  Its focus is to pair university students interested in all different fields of work with diplomats around the globe in order to recognize and assist in the reality of our networked world. Hillary Clinton wanted to create a program that gave more students the opportunity to have an internship while still being able to stay at home to work and continue their education since the entire internship is conducted online. She also recognizes that this internship is an economically-friendly opportunity for students who are racking up debt from school loans. With the VSFS program, you can be paired with many different projects in a variety of different areas and “locations”.  There are projects available in every area of the world and each seeks  a different set of skills so you can work on a number of projects dealing with scientific research, language education, journalism, the economy and just about anything else. For me, it really opened my eyes as to how expansive the State Department is in their work. Personally, I have been paired up with the US Embassy in Lima, Peru! It’s so fitting since I’m already here and this way I can actually meet my supervisor and create a more personal relationship with a Foreign Service Officer. My job with the HR department of the Embassy is to help connect Eligible Family Members (EFMs) who have come overseas with their spouses (who are diplomats) find jobs while they are serving their term in Lima. So, my job is to figure out what sorts of jobs people are looking for and then build a bridge between these potential employees to various local companies and organizations. The second part of my job is to brainstorm ideas of how the embassy can provide more benefits to their national employees. From what I understand, there has been a pay freeze for Peruvian employees at the Embassy and in order to keep them happy and willing to work at the embassy, Human Resources wants to implement more low-cost benefits to its employees. So again, it is my responsibility to work with the HR team in brainstorming and implementing new programs that will ease the lives of the national employees while they continue to work.

I have been so lucky to be able to intern while studying abroad and continuing to do a little traveling here and there. In addition, I am now also in the WIP Program through IAP. WIP is the Worldwide Internship Program. I get credit for my internship now by taking a 3 credit online course. My online class has just started and I have to say, I am pretty excited about it. We have to keep field notes about our experiences and I get to read about my peers’ experiences as well in their internships from all across the globe! UW is connecting us from all corners of the world!

***This piece was originally written for my WIP Field Note Assignment, I just thought everyone else would like to hear this as well!