Global Affairs Graduate Student Interns at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Organizational Affairs, Office of Peacekeeping Operations

Global Affairs Graduate Student Interns at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Organizational Affairs, Office of Peacekeeping Operations

Laila Trombati applied for the U.S. Department of State student internship program in Fall 2021 and started as an intern in Spring 2022. She applied specifically for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs due to her interest in multilateral affairs, how the United Nations system functions, and the important work the UN system does to solve a wide range of global issues. Laila was pleased to be placed in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of Peacekeeping Operations (IO/PKO), as the office seamlessly aligned with her interests. Laila appreciated the fact that a great deal of important work occurs through multilateral organizations, especially the UN system, and the United States contributes to reforming the UN system to make it more efficient and effective.

As a State Department intern, Laila was exposed to the 12 peacekeeping missions deployed in four different regions, including Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, in addition to various thematic issues as they relate to UN peace operations, including climate security and Women, Peace, and Security. Although her portfolio primarily focused on the peacekeeping mission in Mali, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), she also had the chance to work on other peacekeeping missions. Fortunately, Laila was given the opportunity to take on more responsibility as her internship progressed, allowing her to further develop critical skills and gain exposure to issues that would not otherwise have been possible.

During her internship, Laila also attended meetings, provided highlights of UN Security Council sessions which were circulated to senior-level officials, assisted in the fulfillment of congressional reporting requirements on priority issues, drafted talking points and background papers for meetings with the U.S. government and foreign government officials, and drafted a climate security information memorandum submitted to the IO Assistant Secretary. In addition to the important work she contributed to, there were also many networking opportunities as well as interesting events which were accessible to interns, including events with diplomats and civil and foreign service officers aimed at learning more about their career paths and their experiences abroad. Many of the interns had the opportunity to meet and speak with UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who provided insight into the foreign service and detailed some of the advantages and challenges of being a diplomat and representing the United States in foreign countries in various capacities.

This internship perfectly complemented Laila’s coursework in the Global Affairs program. Her Global Affairs and Conflict Analysis and Resolution courses provided her with the necessary subject matter expertise and effectively prepared her for the foreign affairs environment at the State Department. These courses served to solidify her passion for global affairs and conflict resolution and exposed her to professors working within the field, which proved to be extremely valuable. Laila would like to thank her professors at Mason, and especially in the Global Affairs program, who supported and encouraged her to pursue her academic and professional interests.

Although Laila’s internship was completely virtual, it was still an incredibly rewarding experience. She gained meaningful connections which she is sure will continue into her future career. Laila would like to thank her mentors in IO/PKO, whom she was fortunate to have as excellent and supportive mentors who provided invaluable guidance and continue to support her after her internship.

There is a lot of meaningful and important work that is being done at the U.S. Department of State, especially in an increasingly globalized world. The Department of State is one of the best places to gain experience in U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy and meet some of the smartest and most hardworking people in the field. Laila would certainly encourage anyone interested in a career at the State Department or in U.S. foreign policy to apply.