Reflections from Washington, D.C. - BLI Global Internship at the U.S. State Department


By Robbie Austin, BLI Global Internship Recipient Summer 2013
Aug 16, 2013 Bookmark and Share

Robbie Austin in Washington D.C.

Robbie Austin in Washington D.C.

Interning at the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. is an opportunity unlike any other. It is the most educational and transformative life experience. I worked in the Bureau of International Informational Programs- the communications hub for Public Diplomacy. The Bureau provides and supports the places, content, and infrastructure for our posts to have sustained conversations with global audiences in order to advance U.S. foreign policy and build America’s reputation.  I learned about how to deploy the connective technologies of multimedia web chats and social media networks to engage foreign audiences on U.S. policy issues.

Importantly, there were ample opportunities to listen to senior government officials discuss foreign policy challenges, which was most educational. I even attended the Secretary of State’s town hall! Indeed, my internship experience greatly enriched my world perspective. I was impressed by the upmost professionalism and integrity of the U.S. State Department employees. There's one key work in what we do, and that is public service for the United States of America.

Concerning my main leadership takeaway, I believe that the 13 Dimensions of the Foreign Service Officer Qualifications are essential qualities for an individual of any profession to possess. So, here are the following dimensions that reflect the skills, abilities, and personal qualities deemed essential for the work of the Foreign Service These leadership traits are most relevant:

  • Composure. To stay calm, poised, and effective in stressful or difficult situations; to think on one's feet, adjusting quickly to changing situations; to maintain self-control.
  • Cultural Adaptability. To work and communicate effectively and harmoniously with persons of other cultures, value systems, political beliefs, and economic circumstances; to recognize and respect differences in new and different cultural environments.
  • Experience and Motivation. To demonstrate knowledge, skills or other attributes gained from previous experience of relevance to the Foreign Service; to articulate appropriate motivation for joining the Foreign Service.
  • Information Integration and Analysis. To absorb and retain complex information drawn from a variety of sources; to draw reasoned conclusions from analysis and synthesis of available information; to evaluate the importance, reliability, and usefulness of information; to remember details of a meeting or event without the benefit of notes.
  • Initiative and Leadership. To recognize and assume responsibility for work that needs to be done; to persist in the completion of a task; to influence significantly a group’s activity, direction, or opinion; to motivate others to participate in the activity one is leading.
  • Judgment. To discern what is appropriate, practical, and realistic in a given situation; to weigh relative merits of competing demands.
  • Objectivity and Integrity. To be fair and honest; to avoid deceit, favoritism, and discrimination; to present issues frankly and fully, without injecting subjective bias; to work without letting personal bias prejudice actions.
  • Oral Communication. To speak fluently in a concise, grammatically correct, organized, precise, and persuasive manner; to convey nuances of meaning accurately; to use appropriate styles of communication to fit the audience and purpose.
  • Planning and Organizing. To prioritize and order tasks effectively, to employ a systematic approach to achieving objectives, to make appropriate use of limited resources.
  • Quantitative Analysis. To identify, compile, analyze, and draw correct conclusions from pertinent data; to recognize patterns or trends in numerical data; to perform simple mathematical operations.
  • Resourcefulness. To formulate creative alternatives or solutions to resolve problems, to show flexibility in response to unanticipated circumstances.
  • Working With Others. To interact in a constructive, cooperative, and harmonious manner; to work effectively as a team player; to establish positive relationships and gain the confidence of others; to use humor as appropriate.
  • Written Communication. To write concise, well-organized, grammatical correct, effective and persuasive English in a limited amount of time.