This advice is for both U.S. citizens looking to intern at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and non-U.S. citizens interested in interning at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
Branch out from the State Department
U.S embassies and consulates are run by the U.S. Department of State. Naturally then, if you are interested in interning at a U.S. embassy, you might think you must become a State Department intern. Interning with the State Department is an excellent, prestigious opportunity.
It is also extremely competitive with a large amount of applicants each year. In addition, the application process begins through the State Department’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and, if you want to intern abroad, you will choose several regions and potentially receive an offer from any embassy in that location.
Another agency, namely the U.S. Commercial Service, also offer internships and the process to apply is much more direct.
What’s the U.S. Commercial Service?
The U.S. Commercial Service is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that assists U.S. companies in exporting goods and services abroad. If you are interested in trade or any field of business, an internship here will provide wonderful opportunities to learn about different markets, work directly with U.S. companies and in-country companies, and attend educational seminars and conferences.
Not every U.S. embassy has a U.S. Commercial Service, but there are offices in every region and some countries have multiple U.S. Commercial Service offices.
When applying for a State Department internship, you cannot just contact the embassy directly and make human contact right away, which we all know is a disadvantage in any job or internship search.
HOWEVER, you CAN apply directly to the U.S. Commercial Service and actually send your application to a real person at that location.
These internships are still highly competitive, but the additional advantage of applying to the U.S. Commercial Service is that you have more control over the particular locations you are applying to. Compared to the process of applying for a State Department internship, where you will choose your top three regional areas, you are less at the mercy of the system.
Opportunities for Non-U.S. Citizens
You might be surprised to learn that while U.S. citizenship is usually a requirement for working and interning in U.S. embassies abroad, if you are not a U.S. citizen you may still be eligible to intern as a local intern in your home country.
Both the State Department and U.S. Commercial Service provide internships for local interns. Similarly to the advice above, the U.S. Commercial Service offers a great alternative to local students interested in interning at a U.S. embassy in their home country.
To get more information, you can visit http://www.export.gov and choose the country you would like to intern in. From there, you can get information about the internship program and find application and contact information.
“Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.” – Tim Fargo