“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Hannah Postel ‘13 interned as a Consular Intern at the U.S. Department of State in Chengdu, China.
Serving as the Consular Intern at the US Consulate General Chengdu provided me with a first-hand view of the US visa process; though the work was often mundane, it was an amazing opportunity to learn about American diplomacy overseas. I mainly assisted with the visa process through biometrics collection and security advisory opinion drafting. However, I also organized outreach events such as a pre-departure seminar for student visa recipients and assisted with American Citizen Services. Research included a study focusing on the overlap of economic & visa trends, a student validation study, and an Emerging Market Report for the USDA. I also took Chinese classes.
What did you learn?
I definitely learned more about the US visa process and the jobs of Foreign Service Officers in general. I was glad that I’m interested in immigration, because I extrapolated from my daily tasks to understand how what I was doing fit into the overall visa process and global immigration trends. The summer visa rush entails huge volumes of work for all staff members, and I was thus only able to work on more substantial projects beyond processing visas after demand died down. I would definitely recommend the experience to other Middlebury students, though due to the nature of the State Department application they would not be able to specifically request a specific section (Consular, Public Affairs, etc).
What are your plans for the future?
This experience has reinforced my interest in international immigration, and I am now considering serving as a Foreign Service Officer. I hope that gaining such on the ground, day-to-day immigration experiences will make my applications for international migration-related jobs and graduate programs more competitive. I know I will be able to apply the knowledge I acquired in this internship both on campus and in my future life. At Middlebury I am involved with the organization JUNTOS Migrant Outreach, volunteering with Mexican dairy workers in the area, and I think my new knowledge about a different migrant community will enrich our work. Also, I plan on applying for the master’s program in Migration Studies at Oxford University, and I know that the experiences I have had during this internship will both help my application and augment my educational experience if I am admitted.
Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.