Stephen Bowcott (BA History)
British Consulate internship, Chicago, USA – Global Challenge Internship Programme
Details of duties/ responsibilities/ activities
- Worked directly with the Deputy-Consul General to promote UK-US investment as outlined within FCO policy
- Designed, planned and attended 4 day diplomatic visit to North Dakota
- Liaised with senior American business officials and the British-American Business Council
- Compiled written reports on US mid-term elections and Republican Party for Consul-General
- Attended internal and external networking events to promote Anglo-American ties within the Chicago area
- Met with leading thinkers within the American educational world and liaised with consulates education officer to design a programme of using abandoned spaces for educational purposes. This programme has since been passed onto the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation
- Planned, organised and carried out a Beatles themed celebratory party that was attended by over 100 people and formed the centrepiece of the ‘Britain is Great’ campaign
My main achievements centred around quickly adjusting to a completely new working environment and getting used to the intricacies of working in a fast paced and challenging environment. The best and also most challenging thing about this internship was that from literally day one I was given a lot of responsibility from arranging logistics for upcoming important events to meeting with influential people within the educational and business sectors. Whether it was in writing a report for the Consul General or making sure the 50 delegates for the upcoming food security event had a place to stay I strived to achieve a good balance between the quality and speed of which I completed tasks.
My biggest achievement however without a doubt was planning and organising from scratch a four day diplomatic visit attended by myself, the Deputy Consul-General and the Chief Science Officer to North Dakota. I contacted many different organisations within the energy and aerospace sectors and arranged meeting with them. The whole event made me realise just how crucial time management and proper planning are in this line of work.
I strived to achieve a good balance between the quality and speed of which I completed tasks
Most enjoyable part of the internship
The thing I enjoyed most was the opportunity to work with some amazing people; people whose work often does not get reported but nevertheless goes a great deal in bringing prosperity, security and assistance to Britons both at home and abroad. I welcomed with open arms when I arrived and was introduced to everybody; I was given work of a challenging nature that pushed me and showed how much the consulate and the people within it wanted me to succeed. The warmth and friendship offered by my work colleagues also extended out of work hours as well. I was often invited out to lunch or to just go for a few drinks after work, I was very quickly made to feel a valued part of the team; it is this very tight knit team atmosphere that enables such great collaboration between the consulate’s different teams.
I received incredible support from both the host organisation as a whole and the Deputy Consul General as my supervisor. In the first two days of my internship I had face to face meetings with the consulates education, trade and science officers. They all helped me to better understand the environment I was in and offered me advice on how to make the most of my time there. I also met the Consul-General on day four and he gave me some of his experiences of when he first joined the FCO and helped me to play the best way for me to go about making this internship into a larger career within the FCO. Meanwhile the DCG really showed his support in me by the level of responsibility I was tasked with, I am very grateful to him for making my six weeks here a great learning curve.
This internship has developed two core skills that will enable me to go out into the job market with confidence and vigour. Firstly thanks to these last six weeks I am able to communicate with different people in fluid situations much better than before. Having been forced to make sure I communicated perfectly between consulate staff, travel agencies and individuals from public and private sectors in relation to the North Dakota visit I have learnt the true value of efficient and to the point communication. I have also developed my planning skills, having to plan how we wanted the different stage of our Beatles event to go and how we would maximise the use of space; given that over 100 people would be attending enabled me to see how large-scale events are put together.
How this will benefit me in the future
My experiences with this internship will be vital to my future success when applying for graduate positions, because they are exactly within the area I most want to enter. Having been given the opportunity to work for an organisation that rarely offers such internship opportunities I now possess some grounded experience that will hopefully prove to be the cutting edge between me and the numerous other fantastic candidates I will no doubt be competing against. I have also of course been able to make crucial contacts and friends within the Foreign Service sector; I plan to use their advice and support over the coming months as I embark upon the long civil service fast stream application process. Perhaps more importantly however, for the first time I have a definite idea as to what I want my future career to be. This will now enable me to apply for the opportunities I know I want to do and save me much time applying in areas I am unsure I would actually be interested in.
An all-round great internship that has taught me so much. I will strongly recommend applying to this to all my friends still at Bham.
Originally posted on Friday 6th February 2015