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JSIS major gains experience through internship with U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver

Erica Dahl, wearing a denim jacket over a white shirt and black pants, stands in front of a University of Washington building.

December 14, 2022

My name is Erica Dahl and I am majoring in International Studies and Political Science with a minor in Human Rights at the University of Washington in Seattle. Prior to the start of autumn quarter, I applied to be a virtual intern for the U.S. Department of State, primarily working with the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I was originally drawn to this opportunity because I wanted to learn more about how the United States works closely with Canada and how the Department of State functions on a broader scale. My specific internship primarily focuses on First Nations within Canada and the negotiation process that First Nations, British Columbia, and the Canadian government participate in to form new treaties.

Through working on this project, I have learned not only about the inner workings of the treaty process for all parties involved, but also about the Department of State and how important such a department is within the government. As a Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) intern, I have the opportunity to attend virtual development meetings that highlight different departments within government or give presentations on necessary skills needed in a professional setting. These opportunities, including the weekly staff meetings I attend with my immediate team, have helped me to better understand what a job at the Department of State entails.

Prior to the is project, I had little knowledge of Canada, but this opportunity has helped to expand my learning. Through this internship, I have learned about the multitude of projects the Department of State and Consulate handles on a weekly basis, including the cables, or reports, that are worked on simultaneously.

Due to this internship, following graduation, I am planning to look into becoming a Foreign Service Officer, or working within the Department of State in a domestic capacity. However, I also plan to explore academic and professional opportunities in Canada, such as master’s programs, fellowships, or careers that continue to expand my learning and knowledge.

Virtual internships with the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver open for applications in early summer. Click here to learn more.