30th April 2012 Bucharest, Romania
Six things they don’t tell you when you apply for an internship at the British Embassy
So you’ve checked the embassy’s call for interns here and you have decided to apply for an internship at the British Embassy! If you are an undergraduate or graduate student with an economic/political background interested in EU economy/ political affairs, you are about to step into one of the most competitive and dynamic job markets – diplomatic service. An internship in the political section will be a good fit with your professional goals, as it is an opportunity to enrich your educational experience through practical work assignments in the UK embassy.
If you’ve made the cut, congratulations! This means that your shining resume, your carefully written cover letter, your proficiency in English, your enthusiasm and your performance in the interview have set you apart from the high number of candidates. You are now moving on to round two – the experience of working with the embassy’s incredible staff for the next two months.
Your internship mentors strive to make your work both enjoyable and challenging. As an intern, you will participate in a number of different tasks that range from reviewing the daily news and briefing the political staff, research and drafting reports on specific topics to arranging meetings with state officials for the political staff (and even participating in some of those meetings), helping organizing events, as well as representing the embassy at various conferences and seminars.
If you are probably not expecting to ever cross paths with Ambassador Martin Harris, you are definitely going to be surprised when he is going to make time between his meetings with Romanian state officials to personally welcome you and to get to know you. If your head goes empty and you don’t know what to say next when you meet him, here’s some inspiration: Ambassador Harris has two cats named Tolstoi and Pushkin, and his favorite movie is British film noir “The Third Man.” One thing you will notice during your time at the embassy is that Ambassador Harris and the embassy staff really value their interns. So, future intern, try not to look confounded when the Ambassador pops into the political section and asks for your opinion on a political development that happened that day. If I had to highlight the most memorable moment during my time at the embassy, it would be the Cross-Cultural event when Ambassador Harris taught us Scottish dancing and the British staff learned how to dance traditional Romanian invartita. Let’s just say no Brit or Romanian excelled at traditional dancing.
Yes, they occasionally drink tea and celebrate Shrove Tuesday by eating pancakes traditionally served with lemon and sugar, and yes, they do say “to-mah-to” instead of “tomayto,” “herb” instead of “-erb,” they leave out the “r,” (like in “caah” for “car”), they use “cheers” a lot and yes, they do use the British colloquialisms you learned in high school and never thought you’ll need to know, such as “taking the mickey out of someone.” And no, I still cannot do a British accent.
The last thing they don’t tell you when you apply to intern in the British Embassy is that you will meet so many outstanding individuals, who are the heart of the British mission in Bucharest. They nurture the strong diplomatic relationship between Romania and the United Kingdom and work actively to promote the common interests and the shared values of the British and Romanian people. Over the entire period of my internship, I felt privileged to have worked with the embassy’s skilled and passionate political team, and many times it was as an old saying goes that a single conversation across the table with any of them was worth a month’s study of books. So, if you were waiting for somebody to tell you about an internship that will mean to you so much more than a nice resume boost, here it is. Just apply.
Bianca Dragan has worked as an intern in the political section of the British Embassy. She is an M.A. student of Security and Diplomacy (SNSPA) and British Cultural Studies (Bucharest University).