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Student Profile

Embassy Interns

Over the past several years, BYU has been on a roll: more than twenty students each year have been selected for Internships with the US Department of State. As Foreign Service officer Jacob Glenn recently shared with students in a virtual Ask Me Anything event, internships are one of the best ways to find out whether you are a good fit for a career in diplomacy. They require early application; are available in Washington, DC, and worldwide at embassies, consulates, and permanent missions; and draw upon language and area studies knowledge. Embassy personnel are consistently impressed by the caliber of Kennedy Center students.

We surveyed alumni and students to discover what they learned while on internships working among diplomats.

Laurie Batschi
Hometown: Silverdale, Washington
Major: International Relations, ’19
Internship: US Embassy in Brussels, Political-Economic Section

What drives you? My goal is to become a Foreign Service officer, and I am especially interested in fostering a political space to allow for economic and social development through a bilateral partnership. I am currently working at the US Department of State’s Global HIV/AIDS Program, so I am seeing firsthand the various impediments that a poor political environment can have on apolitical development work.

Major accomplishments: I conducted research and met with Belgian officials to draft a cable on Chinese investment in Belgium through the Belt and Road Initiative. Brussels is amazing and home to both the EU and NATO. I learned about multilateral work in each organization, in addition to the more specific bilateral issues through my work at the embassy.

Stefan Bendtschneider
Hometown: Springville, Utah
Majors: Sociology and Spanish Studies, ’17
Internship: San Juan, Puerto Rico, Diplomatic Security Service (Special Agents)

What drives you? I am interested in federal law enforcement and following what’s happening with current events and international relations.

Major accomplishments: I translated a variety of legal documents from Spanish to English for use in a US district court. I was privileged to work with special agents and investigative analysts on active federal investigations and cases for passport and visa fraud and other crimes. During my internship, I received a secret-level security clearance.

Lillie Haggard
Hometown: Fargo, North Dakota
Major: Political Science, ’21
Minor: International Diplomacy and Strategy
Internship: US Department of State Executive Secretariat, Operations Center, Crisis Management and Strategy Office, Washington, DC

What drives you? I am passionate about political economy issues and fighting poverty, developing diplomacy and better international relations, and determining effective US aid and intervention around the world.

Major accomplishments: I wrote a guidebook for a process involving multiple checks of clearances for a specific system my office used. I independently identified a problem, consulted a network of diplomats and personnel around the Department of State, and proposed a solution. I did a team/site visit to Quantico, where the marines have a full-scale embassy building used to train and do drills. My office monitored crises around the world at DOS posts. We put out daily summaries of crises and were in charge of task forces that closely monitored and did troubleshooting on emergency situations.

Coleman Packer
Hometown: Orem, Utah
Major: Political Science, ’19
Emphasis: International Strategy and Diplomacy
Internship: US Department of State Headquarters, Work/Life Division of the Employee Relations Office, Bureau of Human Resources, Washington, DC

What drives you? I was interested in the importance of work-life balance programs that improve employees’ well-being and job satisfaction. I was also interested in initiatives that empower women and LGBTQ+ employees.

Major accomplishments: I collaborated with subject-matter experts to manage programs that empower working mothers and allow civil servants to telework overseas. This involved extensive communication with other bureaus and employees across the department. It also required me to design surveys and analyze data. My career goals are in human resources, and this internship gave me incredible program-management experience. I had rewarding opportunities to network and interact with career diplomats and civil servants.

Nicholas Merrill
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Major: International Relations, ’22
Minor: Communications
Internship: US Embassy in Prague

What drives you? The issues of media literacy, public diplomacy, and media relations are important to me. Even though COVID-19 forced me to return to Provo halfway through the program, I continued working from home on these issues.

Major accomplishments: My supervisors loved an interactive heat map I created showing where extremist political parties are most influential across Czechia. It will help the embassy increase programming in troubled regions. I represented the embassy at Prague Comic Con, facilitated a meet and greet between the bassist of Five Finger Death Punch and the Marines, and ran a public debate between the overseas representatives of both major US parties.

Marisa Gonzalez-Mabbutt
Hometown: Nampa, Idaho
Major: International Relations, ’20
Internship: Economic Bureau, Bilateral Trade Affairs Office, US Department of State

What drives you? I am interested in Latin American and Asian trade affairs.

Major accomplishments: My position in the office consisted primarily of analyzing trade data, and by the end of my internship, I had completed a portfolio of bilateral trade profiles for key countries, which were to be used by State officials in meetings. Between projects, my coworkers made every effort to bring me along to State-sponsored conventions and allow me to assist with senior-level meetings and contribute to reports and memos. By the end, I had grown considerably as a professional and knew more about what I was capable of and what I wanted to do in the future. My internship gave me so many opportunities to expand my skills, perceptions, and goals.