In April of 2016, I accepted a position with the US Marine Corps, working as an analyst preparing briefings. However, due to an administrative complication I was unable to assume my duties, and I was told I would have to wait until my paperwork was processed.
Yet when I accepted the paid Marine Corps internship, I had rejected an unpaid offer in a US Senator’s office and I was left without an internship. I therefore started looking for temporary work to bide my time until my paperwork made its way through the bureaucracy of the United States Department of Defence.
One of the original aspects of my proposal for the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund was the incredible number and variety of educational events in the Washington, D.C. area. So, once I received my grant, I purchased a ‘SmartTrip’ public transportation card and a student membership to ‘LinkTank’, a networking and event platform that compiles think tank events in the DC area into a single calendar and began attending events.
At university, I focus on International Security, and as such the first event I attended was the ‘Defense One Tech Summit’. The summit was an all day affair, and included events ranging from an exhibition of new software to help service-members deal with PTSD, to a speech by the US Secretary of Defence. At the Summit, I met Geoff Orazem, the managing partner of Eastern Foundry, a start-up accelerator for government contractors. I had emailed Geoff earlier in the week to determine whether or not his company was hiring interns, and though I hadn’t received a reply, I was able to secure an internship through speaking with him.
However, I was still eager to find something related to my degree. I eventually secured an internship at the American Council of Life Insurers, where I worked in the international policy department performing international legal research regarding the implications of cross-border data regulations.
At Eastern Foundry, I planned a curriculum focused on providing online business education to small businesses and businesses new to the government contracting. At ACLI, I created a reference matrix for laws governing data protection and cross border data transfers in over 40 countries, a project which was picked up by the US Chamber of Commerce. Finally, I was able to attend more than 20 think tank events across the area, collecting information, asking questions, and interacting with members of the government as part of my dissertation research.
My initial summer experience was unbelievably humbling. After being rejected from nearly 15 internship programmes, I was finally accepted by two—and neither worked out due to circumstances beyond my control. However, I learned a hard lesson about the power of perseverance, and was able to gain valuable experience and build relationships with professionals in a variety of fields which have since paid off immensely.
I cannot thank the University enough for both the education they have provided and the funding to make this trip possible.