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expense. Fortunately the consulate staff

recommended an excellent doctor, and

I quickly recovered from an ear infection

and paid the out-of-pocket cost to treat it.

Amore serious medical emergency, how-

ever, would have been far more expensive.

Including the unforeseenmedical

expense, the total cost of the internship

was about $6,000. That included trans-

Atlantic airfare, rent and utilities, food

and transportation around Düsseldorf.

Although it was clear when I applied that

this was an unpaid internship, only later

did I think to ask the question of what

value we as interns would receive for our


Early on I learned that this particular

consulate had been downsized several

years before, losing many responsibilities

to the consulate general in Frankfurt. The

workload, therefore, had little excess for

unpaid interns to pick up. While I usually

had a few daily tasks (though I desired

more), there were too many days when I

had none.

When the second intern arrived a

month later, my already light workload

was halved. Idle hands was not what the

internship program touted, and it wasn’t

what we had signed up and “paid” for.

Although our work was highly regarded,

and we were qualified, it was apparent

that the consulate had barely enough real

work for one intern, much less for two.

Not challenging interns, who shoul-

der significant personal costs to get a

taste of being in the Foreign Service, with

meaningful work and failing to use their

full potential is a serious problem for an

internship program.

If my experience is any indication, the

program could benefit from a review to

determine if both the intern and the State

Department are getting the most out of it.

While I encourage others to consider

this program, many may not be capable

of personally funding such an expensive

endeavor. To avoid disappointing intern-

ship experiences in the future, especially

in light of the considerable personal

expense involved, there should be a re-

evaluation, or at least a clarification, of

what the program’s value and goals are to

the intern.

Furthermore, the program could ben-

efit from having a uniform support system

to help interns with such things as finding

living quarters; and the Foreign Service

posts, for their part, could benefit from

guidance on how to maximize the intern-

ship experience.

Inmy case, despite an immensely

welcoming staff, I felt unfulfilled—both

as an intern and as a consulate contribu-

tor. Hopefully future modifications will

strengthen the existing program and

ensure the best-possible intern experience

every time.

Overall, however, I am glad that I

interned in Düsseldorf. It was my first

work experience, and it convinced me to

pursue a Foreign Service career.


TOP: U.S. Consulate General Düsseldorf interns pose at a trade fair with two “Statues

of Liberty.”William Robertson is second from the left; his fellow intern, Sam Yancho,

is in the middle; and Lizette Bannies, the U.S. Commercial Service’s German intern, is

at right. LOWER LEFT: A debate on the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment

Partnership at the Deutsche-Welle building in Bonn in March featured (from left)

Düsseldorf Consul-General Stephen A. Hubler; Stefan Engstfeld, a Green Party member

of the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament; Deutsche-Welle Moderator Jule Reimer;

and Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, vice president of the European Parliament. LOWER

RIGHT: A soccer match in Gelsenkirchen.