From the age of 16, as I reflected on how I wanted to serve others and the greater world, I knew that I wanted to work within human rights and hunger. My current internship for the U.S. State Department at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations has allowed me to explore this passion within developing nations. Daily, I assist diplomats with planning various events and notetaking during meetings, both of which help strengthen my writing and analytical skills. Previous events I have attended have covered topics such as food waste, taxation, sustainable development, and poverty. Recently, I was able to work with a U.S. ambassador on an upcoming human rights project, which has allowed me to work closely with more senior officials. It has been wonderful to expand my knowledge in different areas, such as hearing about climate change from different delegates during events and negotiations. This includes working with documents that are used within the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), learning the office language and acronyms, enhancing writing skills concisely through brief event summaries, and utilizing networking skills within my department. As this internship is virtual, working from home can be challenging, but it has been very rewarding knowing that we are appreciated for all the assistance that we provide. My biggest achievement thus far has been assisting an ambassador with research and a speech presentation on a subject area that I am passionate about.
What I really value from my internship is that I am given the opportunity to meet with ambassadors, diplomats, and other senior officials weekly to inquire and receive advice about their careers. Maintaining professionalism is crucial during this internship as we are constantly communicating with other U.S. State Department officials and UN employees of all fields and levels. For example, I had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Ambassador to the UN this week. Hearing her story and passion motivated me as a Black woman to join this field in the quest of breaking barriers and pursuing my dreams. My diplomacy coursework has equipped me with the background knowledge needed to understand the conversations taking place and has assisted me in transferring the skills I have learned in the classroom to the workplace.
Every day, I remember that I am 20 years old, an undergraduate student, and one of the youngest interns in my department. I am extremely grateful to be doing what I do and attribute this success to the School of Diplomacy and the assistance of Dr. Ruby. As a female student of color, I enjoy seeing representation within the State Department, and it assures me that I belong here. The people that I work with are extremely kind and willing to share advice with us about their professional careers, proving how effective networking will continue to be in any positions that you obtain.
I highly recommend this internship to anyone that is interested in the work of the State Department and the United Nations, as it has been the best of both worlds for me. I have learned so much during the time that I have spent there and am extremely eager to see all that is to come!
-Akaysha Palmer ’22