Internship Series: U.S. Department of State

Greg ZegasGreg Zegas
CAS’15 | Environmental Analysis & Policy, Economics
Econ and Diplomacy Intern at Embassy Majuro (Marshall Islands)

CCD: Tell us about your experience. What were your responsibilities?

Greg: The Embassy in Majuro is so small that I was able to be involved in a wide variety of projects. At the beginning of the summer, I worked on public diplomacy and community engagement. I also helped organize an Embassy-sponsored home run derby at a kids camp, assisted with grant processing, and managed the Embassy’s Facebook page. In addition to this, I wrote economic reports and official diplomatic documents (known as cables) about local developments. Towards the end of the summer, I assisted in the deployment of ocean-monitoring products (wave buoy and water sensor) that would hopefully improve Majuro’s capacity to stay ahead of coastal flooding. With the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, I organized an assessment of rainwater collection systems on drought-affected northern atolls, ring-shaped coral reefs.

CCD: What was the best thing about the experience? What was the worst?

Greg: The entire Embassy team was extremely welcoming, from the front desk staff, to my supervisor, the Ambassador, and his dog! I was fortunate to work alongside (and play tennis) with all of them at some point during the summer. I appreciate how they let me get out of the Embassy to pursue projects that interested me personally. This freedom allowed me to interact with a broad range of international organizations working in the Marshall Islands. The only downside was that there were hardly any young Americans on the island for the summer, which was a small sacrifice for getting to live abroad. But living on an island in the middle of the Pacific definitely has its perks, like snorkeling, scuba diving, fresh sashimi, and coconuts.

CCD: How has this experience changed your future plans?

Greg: The experience only strengthened my desire to work internationally on projects related to economic development, sustainability, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. The inside look at Foreign Service operation will be invaluable if I choose to apply down the road.

CCD: What are the benefits of the type of summer experience you did?

Greg: As a State Department intern, I was the face of American diplomacy, complete with a security clearance. That responsibility carries weight and the clearance is well-respected. The internship is unpaid, but I think the connections and unique experiences at a small Embassy can pay dividends down the road.

CCD: What’s next for you?

Greg: After a month-long mountaineering expedition in Denali National Park in Alaska this summer, I’m attending the Millenium Campus Network conference at the United Nations in New York City, then hoping to start at a great company in the midwest in September.

 

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