For a graduate student studying diplomacy and international commerce, there could not have been a better internship experience than the eight weeks I spent at the U.S. Commercial Service within the American Embassy in Bucharest, Romania during June and July 2008. The experience allowed me to see both how a U.S. embassy works from within, as well as how U.S. companies operate abroad.
This summer was very exciting in the office, as we were transitioning from one commercial attaché, Cindy Biggs, to another, Keith Kirkham. One of my primary tasks this summer was to compile a briefing book on all of the activities, operations and pending issues for CS Bucharest as well as market overviews of Romania’s most important sectors in order to brief our incoming commercial attaché. Because of this transition, I was also able to learn from two unique, cross-cultural management styles. Both Cindy and Keith always maintained an open door and were never too busy to answer any questions.
While I was at CS Bucharest, I also had the chance to attend Expo Apa, the largest water trade show in Romania, and I helped staff the U.S. Pavilion in this show, where we assisted American companies looking to enter or establish a presence in the Romanian water market. Coincidentally, I completed a project in my graduate program where our assignment was to establish an international presence for an American producer of water purification equipment. However, my conversations with American companies at Expo Apa taught me some of the complexities of international business that simply can only be learned through real-life experience.
No matter where I go after graduation, I will be able to take with me the skills I gained from my internship experience at CS Bucharest. Helping to draft our weekly highlights newsletter certainly improved my writing, but what I will probably take most with me are the intangibles of being a part, if only for two months, of a truly wonderful team. My colleagues at CS Bucharest made me feel welcome from the first day and showed me how valuable interpersonal communication is to the success of any team. I would whole-heartedly recommend this internship to any student in the fields of international relations or international business. Personally, educationally and professionally, my internship at CS Bucharest was tremendously enriching.