2017 PFIG Recipient Brandi Logan
Journal Entry #1
I grew up living abroad and in the States with both of my parents working for the government so while I was familiar with public service, I had no clue what my experience would be actually working for the Consular section of the State Department. My first day was promising as I was introduced to a plethora of people, all of whom were extremely welcoming and enthusiastic in wanting to show me their specific job functions as well as encouraging me to explore other agencies at the Santo Domingo post. My excitement wore off after a couple days as I was waiting for computer access and ended up pasting visas in passports for the majority of the day or shadowing Foreign Service Officers while they interviewed applicants. After finally receiving computer access, I was quickly put to work fingerprinting, performing background checks, analyzing and summarizing details of applicants in order to prep cases for officers. As my work becomes almost second nature to me, I am excited to venture out and explore more sectors of the State Department.
Interacting with the people of the Dominican Republic has been the highlight of my internship thus far. The general friendliness and congeniality of Dominicans was extremely surprising to me but certainly helped me to feel at ease in the country. One aspect of my experience that I have not yet grown accustomed to is the infamous Dominican accent. Although I have been studying Spanish for 5+ years and studied abroad in Valencia, my brain was totally not prepared for Dominican Spanish (imagine the speed at which an auctioneer speaks and multiply by 10). Day by day I can slowly feel myself picking up on certain phrases and tonal differences and I hope by the end of my first two weeks I will be able to understand with no problems.
Overall, my first complete work week at the Embassy has been amazing and I am beyond ecstatic to be directly contributing in advancing U.S. interests abroad.
Journal Entry #2
After settling in to my internship, I was assigned the task of drafting a cable analyzing the data of students on work travel visas to the U.S. While I was confident in my ability to thoroughly analyze data and derive meaning from trends, I was unaware of the significance of what I was assigned and how I would be contributing to the organization. My boss later explained to me exactly what a cable is, an approximately a 500-word summary updating all U.S. embassies and Washington of new policies and/or procedures originating at a specific post which are relevant to the State Department as a whole. I was excited to learn the extent to which my assignment actually had an impact and just how many people would see my work. I was also given the opportunity to attend and help plan official embassy events, including the 4th of July Celebration for U.S. and Dominican high-ranking government officials and important members of civil society. Although I haven’t been working on the event since it’s inception, I’ve enjoyed seeing how much work and preparation goes in to creating the perfect environment for dignitaries to congregate and improve diplomatic relations.
The highlight of my internship thus far has been meeting with the chargé d’affaires, a diplomat that assumes the role as the head of an embassy in the absence of an ambassador, Mr. Patrick Dunn. Mr. Dunn detailed his duties and described what it was like to serve as the principal representation of the U.S. here in the Dominican Republic and I was astounded at the constant level of scrutiny an ambassador is subjected to. I also got to meet with the DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission), Mr. Art Brown, who is second in charge and happens to be a Wahoo as well. In speaking with Mr. Brown individually, he was able to give me incredible advice from optimizing my resources at UVA to navigating grad school and the workplace.
As I’ve reached the halfway point of my internship, I look forward to continuing to meet with officers of various levels and sectors in the embassy. I truly feel as though I am progressing professionally and personally through my experience and am excited to see what the latter half of the internship has in store for me.
Journal Entry #3
As my internship comes to a close, I am extremely grateful for my time working with the State Department in Santo Domingo. The personal and professional growth I experienced during my internship is unparalleled to any single experience I have endured in life thus far. I especially noticed instrumental improvement in my interpersonal and leadership skills during the course of my internship. Prior to this experience, I found it difficult to balance my presence as a leader in group settings without becoming too overbearing or too passive. Being able to speak with and observe competent leaders daily as well as constantly working in a team, I was able to improve the effectiveness of my presence in group settings as well become more multifaceted in my leadership abilities.
Completing my long-term project, writing a cable analyzing 2016 student work travel visa data, was by far my greatest accomplishment during my internship. Being given a large task, working diligently, and receiving great praise for my work was not only extremely rewarding but also served as inspiration to continue taking on seemingly arduous challenges.
During the course of my internship I was able to greatly expand my knowledge of the State Department and governmental functions in general, which helped reaffirm my desire to become a federal consultant post graduation. My experience with the State Department allowed me to construct a solid information base that I hope to use in the future in order to increase government efficiency and impact. My internship with the State Department in Santo Domingo was an unbelievably meaningful experience and I would like to thank the Parents Fund for making it all possible.