2019 Parents Fund Internship Grant Reflections: Camille Petersen

Internship Location: United States Department of State

Journal Entry #1:

Hi! I'm Camille Petersen, this summer, I will be interning in D.C. with the United States Department of State. I will be gathering information to help prepare for the July 2019 Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial. I will also attend a variety of meetings, read related documents, and assist in drafting documents for the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund and for public affairs for my department.

During my first week, I got adjusted to the ins and outs of my internship. I attended Orientation, where I learned about my responsibilities as an intern and learned the State Department’s new Professional Ethos. This Ethos involves “championing American diplomacy” by “act[ing] with uncompromising personal and professional integrity” and by “tak[ing] ownership for my actions and decisions”. One set up in my office, I learned my way around the building, read up on related documents, and started putting together information for the Western Hemisphere Ministerial. I am looking forward to developing my professional skills and learning more about international public policy.

Journal Entry #2: 

Since my last entry, I have worked on a variety of projects. Primarily, I have been gathering and summarizing relevant information on several countries to help prepare for the upcoming Western Hemisphere Ministerial on Counterterrorism. For this, I have had to read through multiple documents in both Spanish and English to find important information. I have also learned to use the State Department’s writing style guide, which is different from the style I am used to writing in at UVA.

I also helped draft a paper summarizing the background of the 1994 attack on the AMIA center in Argentina and the ongoing developments of the investigation. For this assignment and the previously mentioned assignment, I had to collaborate with others in my office. Additionally, I gathered background information about how Hizballah is designated in the European Union.

Moreover, I attended a talk at George Washington University on terrorists’ use of encrypted messaging platforms, which was a culmination of an extensive research project on the subject. I was also able to attend a hearing on Capitol Hill on Russia’s counterproductive Counterterrorism policies.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to finalize my work for the Western Hemisphere Ministerial, assist on any other projects that may arise, and continue developing my professional skills here at the State Department.

Journal Entry #3: 

Since my last entry, I finished my main project of gathering background information to help prepare for the Western Hemisphere Ministerial on Counterterrorism. For this, I summarized a variety of documents and reports in both Spanish and English, as well as several news articles. Additionally, I helped ensure that accurate travel information was entered for all the Americans attending this ministerial.

More recently, I attended a talk on Far Right, or Racially and Ethnically Motivated Terrorism. This talk covered methods used online to radicalize people towards this ideology, primarily teenagers, as well as common Far Right symbolism and iconography, and the complexity of the often contradictory ideology of these groups. As a UVA student that had their first-year move in just days after the Unite the Right attack on Charlottesville, this was particularly interesting and thought provoking. 

Over the course of my internship, I feel like I have learned a great deal, from simply getting used to working in a professional setting, to having actual responsibility in important and exciting projects. Moreover, my experience this summer has made me more confident that I really do want to work in this field after I graduate in 2021.