Christopher Weech, INTA Class of 2023
- Where and with whom did you do your internship?
I did my internship at the economics (ECON) section of the US Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, working under the commercial attaché.
- What were your primary responsibilities?
My responsibilities were a little bit all over the place depending on the work that needed to be done. My primary work was daily economic reporting. It was my responsibility to keep up to date on all current economic trends or events in Ecuador and report them to the ECON team and the Embassy in Quito. I summarized news articles, analyzed trends, reported on trade events, and more. I published the Monthly Economic Express, a cable on the most important economics related topics for each month, as well as several shorter economic summaries throughout the summer. My other primary responsibility was to publish cables for the ECON section. The cable content varied but included topics like chronic childhood malnutrition, the economic effects of new oil and mining policy, a year-in review for the new president, and a report on the cacao sector. My other secondary responsibilities included attending meetings with ministers, receiving trade delegations, writing the Country Commercial Guide, working on federal grants, maintaining the ECON database, and more.
- Which of your previous classes or learning experiences were most useful to you during the internship?
I did not have much of an economics background coming into the Bush School, so the two classes I found most helpful to my experience were Global Economics and International Trade Policy. Global Economics provided me with a sturdy foundation to understand the nuances of the economic reporting that I would be doing at the Embassy and allowed me to analyze the economics news critically. International Trade Policy allowed me to effectively engage with trade delegations and Ecuador’s foreign ministers. I was able to understand the trade irritants, trade goals, and trade discussion in a way that I would not have been able to otherwise. Aside from those two classes, both Quant 1 and 2 gave me a strong background to analyze statistics and effectively use statistics in my reporting.
- What were the highlights or most important learning opportunities from your internship experience?
It is so difficult to pick just one or two highlights or learning moments. To be entirely honest, I felt like I was learning the entire time that I was there. Every task I was assigned was an opportunity for me to practice a skill I already had or develop a new one. As for highlights, I think getting my first cable published was a definite highlight. It was very nice to see my name on an official State Department cable. My other main highlight was getting three of my published cables featured by the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. It is always nice to get recognition for projects and cables that I put a lot of work into. I did also see the Ecuadorian President when he attended the Embassy’s 4th of July event which was certainly fun, although less related to my own professional development.
- Do you have any advice for first year Bush School students who may be applying for an internship for this summer?
Definitely start looking early. A lot of these federal internships have application cycles that start in September as you need time to get a clearance before starting. If you want to work at an embassy abroad, be sure to be prepared to submit your application in September, so be sure to have your federal resume and personal statements prepared beforehand. I would also say to venture outside of your comfort zone a little bit. I did not think I was necessarily a competitive applicant for this position, but when I got there I found I was very qualified. You never know what opportunities will come your way if you just apply.