I can’t believe it, but three weeks from today is my last day at the office! For those of you that don’t know, I am working at the U.S. Embassy to Italy in Rome this summer as a public affairs intern. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I am learning so much both about Italy and Italian politics, but also how the State Department actually works and the many paths people take to decide to become a Foreign Service Officer. I get to do a little bit of everything in my position, as the Public Affairs section encompasses both Cultural Affairs and the Press Office; I have worked with the Fulbright program, the Congressional Research Office, and the Italian press in general. Here’s a look into what a day looks like in my position!
7:30 – wake up and get ready for work. I usually pack a lunch of a sandwich, yogurt and some fruit. I take either the Rome metro or the bus to my apartment. I love taking the #492 bus, which drives me right by the Vittoriano, the giant monument/museum in honor of the Italian unification and Italy’s first monarch, Victor Emmanuel II.
8:30-9am – I arrive at the Embassy. I start off by aiding in what we call press capsules, which are a summary and often direct translation of articles in the major Italian newspapers about American politics and topics of interest to the government to be released to Washington and the entire Embassy. This is one of my favorite parts of my day, as I get to use my Italian and get a great overview of what’s going on in the world today.
The rest of the morning, I may assist in short projects – for example, I went through our archive to find events we hosted or sponsored on LGBTQ topics and analyzed the audience reach we achieved in each event.
12:30-1pm – I usually eat lunch on our outdoor terrace with colleagues or other interns, or I might buy something from the “Elephant Bar” (our cafeteria), or head to one of the great restaurants in the neighborhood. One of my favorites is Pinsere, a great cheap pizza joint a block from the Embassy.
In the afternoon, I can attend events we are sponsoring around the city, sometimes assisting, or just learning from whatever presentation is being given. Other times, I assist with events at the Embassy, for example, a reception for recent Italian recipients of the Fulbright grants, as well as American grantees who were finishing their experience in Italy. Very often I will draft remarks or a speech for these events, often for a Cultural Affairs Officer or Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs, but a few times, for our Chargé d’Affaires (who is the senior individual at the Embassy in lieu of an Ambassador, who has just been appointed but not yet approved by the Senate). I also have some longer-term projects, for example creating a network for alumni of a professional exchange for rising Italian political and business leaders that the Embassy runs.
5pm – I finish work each day – after that I may go to the gym inside the Embassy, a happy hour/mixer, or an evening event the Embassy is sponsoring. One of the things I enjoyed most was an Iftar dinner hosted at the Ambassador’s residence (a literal Roman villa!) for which I helped write the Chargé’s speech that she made there.
Overall, this job is a bit of everything, which is something I really enjoy. I get to interact with a lot of different people both within the Embassy, but also academics, Italian politicians, and other students. I’m so grateful both for the fact that I am learning a ton about Italy and Italian politics each day, but also the day-to-day goings-ons of our own government. It really gives me a sense of what type of work I might be interested as a career. My academic work back home at Hopkins confirmed to me that I want to work with international relations for the rest of my life, but this summer is really gearing me up towards entering the Foreign Service one day.