Week 6 – ‘Keep calm and carry on’
This week has been an incredible week. Being just a four day week, and also my very last week here in Chicago, it has flown by. This week, I have felt completely settled, valued and confident in my job role and have been involved in both interesting and high-profile work.
The week kicked off with an early morning visit to Cook County Jail. Four of my colleagues and I were given a tour of the Division I, a maximum security division for males, followed by a tour of a minimum security facility for women. We were also given a presentation on Cook County Jail’s Justice for Women initiative. Cook County Jail is the largest single-site Jail in the United States – with 11,000 pre-trial inmates – and whilst it was a highly interesting visit, much of the time I felt conflicted about being inside the Jail (particularly walking through Division I). The visit certainly required a high level of diplomatic professionalism!
Upon our return to the Consulate in the afternoon, I gave a 10 minute presentation on my impressions of the Jail, during the bi-weekly town hall meeting. I was feeling very nervous at the prospect of presenting in front of nearly 30 people (especially as the newbie!), but I managed to get across all of the most important and interesting points that I had planned to make.
On Wednesday I worked primarily on my standalone project (putting the Premier Skills Programme together!). The delegation from Premier Skills is arriving to Chicago in less than 2 weeks and so there is a certain amount of time pressure for securing meetings. I have learnt that putting together a programme such as this is not easy. A lot of consideration is needed – as regards how visitors will travel, how long travel may take between each meeting, where is the best place for the meetings to take place – to make sure that the visit goes smoothly and the objectives of the visiting party are met.
In the afternoon, the CG held a meeting on the Syrian conflict. I was fortunate enough to be present during the meeting and was briefed on the UK Government’s official position on the conflict.
Thursday was dedicated to discussing my time at the Consulate with the Deputy CG (who has been my primary mentor and manager). It was a great opportunity to receive detailed feedback on the work I have undertaken throughout the last 6 weeks. The Deputy CG flew down to Kentucky mid afternoon and so it was also time for me to say my goodbyes to him and to thank him for all of his guidance and support during my time at the Consulate.
Friday went very quickly, as I was rushing to tie up all of the loose ends with the Premier Skills Programme and briefing the Deputy CG on where we were with the Programme, so he can take it forward next week. My last day at the Consulate came to an official close with farewell drinks at the office, followed by dinner and drinks with a select group of colleagues – those that I worked with most closely during the last 6 weeks!
I am very sad to leave Chicago, it has been such an amazing experience and I have learnt so much that I can now take forward and apply to future job roles. I have undoubtedly added to both my professional and personal development and I feel well equipped to navigate the often difficult world of the graduate job search.
I would encourage any UoB student interested in politics/international relations to apply for this internship. It really is a fantastic opportunity. If you are ready to work hard, push yourself to succeed and are not afraid to dive in at the deep end, intern at the British Consulate in Chicago – it might change your life!