Student Blog: Interning at the Canadian Embassy
Last Two Weeks ... Time To Pile on the Work!
by Cyle Petersen '10
I thought with my internship at the Embassy running down, with only two weeks left, the work might slowly stop coming in and I would be sitting restless with nothing to do. Quite the opposite and I'm pretty sure no one in my department even knows that next Thursday is my last day because they have given me enough work to last for another whole month! Additionally, four of the diplomats in my department are being re-posted back to Ottawa and one to Dubai, and two others are now on summer vacation so there is even more work to do on top of what was assigned. It sounds something like the end of a semester at Catawba.
Monday was probably the exception to the above description because my one boss who usually assigns us interns to attend hearings was busy getting a few things done before he left for his vacation at lunchtime so there was no time to stop and ask him to tell us what to do. Luckily, I did have back-up database entry work to keep me busy ... and bored. I also finished up my 6-page paper that was due the next night in class. My last assignment of the summer! I took many periodic breaks to check e-mail just to keep myself sane, and was very happy when the end of the day came. Although I was happy the end of the work day came, I wasn't looking forward to having to concentrate for another 3 hours in class that night. I was hoping we would get our midterms back from Friday morning's class but the teacher said that was impossible so that wish was postponed until Wednesday night. I'm glad I finished my paper at work earlier
in the day because once I got out of class I was ready to eat and sleep!
Tuesday morning I got into the office and since I was one of the first ones in, I fell back on my back-up work until the others got in to assign me something else. Later in the morning I got assigned a new project on the database (lucky me!) that requires me to go through all 538 Members of Congress' records and find any reports of meetings they may have had with Embassy staff. This project alone could have lasted me until school started. I worked on this for a while up until about lunch and then took a break. When I got back there was another project on the same database for me to start and they told me to ditch the one I was working on for now. This one was updating the Buy American chart, which monitors the behavior of each member of Congress on the Buy American provisions that have been written into several pieces of legislation to help American industry. The problem with this is that doing so breaks trade agreements with Canada,
so this is the biggest issue for the Embassy right now. Keeping this chart up to date is very important for monitoring this big-ticket issue. I pretty much worked on this chart for the rest of the day as it was to be done by Thursday afternoon so one of my bosses could look it over and critique it. The day finally ended and I was off to Georgetown to have my LAST Internship Seminar class of the summer and turn in my final paper that discusses the biggest challenge facing my internship site at the Embassy. Class was only an hour and a half, as this one class always is, so I was free at 7:30PM, something that never happens! I caught up on shows online that I had misses as I don't have a TV here but then I went to bed just like any other night.
Wednesday morning I didn't go straight into work because my program had a required briefing at Capitol Hill. My roommate and I got up early to get to the Visitor's Center at Capitol Hill by 8:30 in what was the hottest day of the summer so far. I was drenched before we finally got to go into the air conditioned, underground building. We waited for quite a while for all 400 of us to finally get into the auditorium and then finally 2 different members of Congress, a Democrat from Maryland, and a Republican from Alabama, spoke to us and took a few questions. I zoned out for a few minutes while the Representative from Oklahoma was speaking and I snapped out of it in the middle of a lecture on God and religion in government. This is about the time I stopped listening and began wondering how he got onto this topic. The speech ended with a cliché "God bless you, and God bless America." Get me out of here! Since
Capitol Hill is only a 10 minute walk to the Embassy I headed back to work and got busy for about an hour before it was time for lunch. I finished a project that I had been working on for a while and then e-mailed my supervisor to see if she had anything else for the other intern and I to do, even though I already had the other huge project looming overhead. She told me to keep working on the project I had just been assigned, but she also gave us 4 resumes from interns applying for the Fall session. She wanted us to look through them and choose the top candidates. It's funny to think that someone else did this for my resume in the Spring. These candidates seemed a lot more experienced that I was so I began wondering how I got this internship haha! I worked on my Buy American project for the rest of the day and then headed back to campus to eat quickly before class. We got our midterms back and I was pretty happy with my 94. I
was, however, asked never to write in cursive again since the TA couldn't read it. Needless to say, a complaint I have never gotten before. I think I am going to stick with it and ask the actual professor to mark my final since I can write way faster in cursive and if I try to print fast, it ends up being cursive anyways. It was good to know that I'm in good shape heading into the final in less than a week!
Thursday I was by myself as the other intern in the department was heading to NYC for the weekend to meet up with her family from Southern Ontario. I was jealous but couldn't feel too bad since I do get every Friday off from work and she usually works. I continued working on my project and finally finished compiling the entries into the chart by lunchtime and sent it off to the diplomat in the department who was going to read over it and get back to me. After lunch I had a hearing to attend on Highway Trust Fund Financing. I have gotten to attend several hearings involved with transportation and climate change and have come to realize how huge of a problem and a bill this will eventually be. Ideas of how to finance transportation funding were discussed and I took notes and got started on the report when I returned to the Embassy. I got about halfway done with the report by 4 or 4:15 and then I had to quickly type up the list of hearing
for next week and send them to the Minister of the department. I did this and stayed a little later than usual at work since I had a reception and awards ceremony to attend at a downtown hotel at 6:30. The award being given was the Judd Freedom Award, a culmination of all the weekly lectures we have had throughout the summer. Past recipients have included President Reagan and this year's recipient was Former Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. This was a pretty big deal, as I had seen this man's face on the Daily Show in the past haha! I had heard of the man and knew he was quite famous so it was pretty neat to be sitting in a private ballroom listening to him lecture us, even if the content was too much of an "American brainswashing" for my liking. It seemed as if the topic of the night was how the rest of the world can be very evil and the United States is the only country that can lead the fight against
it. I think I may have been the only one who felt this way, partly because most of the other attendees were American. Nonetheless, still a good experience. There was a reception, including an open bar afterwards, so it was very worthwhile to attend! I stayed for a few hours and mingled and took advantage of the free food and drinks and then left around 9 to head home to bed.
Friday morning the program spoiled us with a free breakfast in the courtyard in the middle of all our apartments since it was our last Friday morning class of the summer so I got up early to go to that ... twice. It was pretty nice not having to cook for the last two meals and get it for free as well! Class followed, and I struggled to stay focused for 3 hours but just told myself it was the last full class of the summer so I should try to at least concentrate. Monday's class is actually the last one, but it only has an hour long lecture and then our final is to follow, which will unfairly include the information from the lecture only minutes before. I've never heard of doing that, but I guess I will have to live with the professor's decision. I just relaxed the rest of the day and was set to enjoy my last weekend here in DC!
This weekend should be fun as Saturday night one of the interns at the Embassy has invited us all over to his apartment to have a Summer wrap-up party and then we are going to go out on the town one last time. I haven't had as much of a chance to get to know the other interns as the rest of them had because I am the only one with such a rigorous schedule out of work so I am looking forward to it! Sunday I will be studying all day for the final and then next week I will be celebrating all week that the final is over! That's usually how finals season works! Next week I will recap all the cool things I have seen, done, and accomplished here in DC for the summer!