Due to the vast scope of her studies, Diana believes it’s vital to explore a range of opportunities in different sectors before choosing a path to pursue after graduation.
After working as a legal compliance intern at Capgemini last summer, this year she decided to apply to an internship related to international relations. When she encountered the internship at the Embassy of New Zealand in Madrid via the IE University Talent & Careers Portal, she thought it would be the perfect next step.
Diane shared with us her experience as a policy intern at the Embassy of New Zealand in Spain during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What internship did you take part in?
I interned at the Embassy of New Zealand in Madrid from June to September. I worked within the policy department alongside the senior policy advisor, the deputy head of mission and consul as well as the ambassador himself. Due to the ongoing pandemic, I was mostly working remotely.
Why were you interested in this opportunity? How did you find out about it?
As a student of the Dual Degree in Laws and International Relations, I believe it’s essential to take as many opportunities as I can in both the legal and international relations sector to determine the professional path I want to follow. One of the reasons I chose to study international relations was to learn more about diplomacy and the way international institutions work on a daily basis. When I came across the policy intern position at the Embassy of New Zealand on the Talent & Careers portal, I decided to apply immediately. It seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how an embassy adapts in times of crisis.
What was your day-to-day life like?
Due to the ongoing pandemic, I was mainly working from home and communicating with the rest of the team through daily Zoom meetings, WhatsApp messages and emails. I carried out research on a variety of topics of interest to the New Zealand government, including trade disruptions due to COVID-19 and the state of the health, tourism and green energy sectors in Morocco and Spain. I also wrote a detailed report on the travel and health restrictions in Spain.
In addition, I was able to attend numerous webinars organized by the Real Instituto Elcano, the Club of Madrid and other well-known organizations on diverse topics ranging from tourism in the age of COVID-19 to utilizing hydrogen to revive the global economy. At these events I had the opportunity to listen to political figures such as Reyes Maroto and Helen Clark present their opinions on the current situation. Participating in internal meetings about the organization of the different embassies around Europe during the crisis formed a big part of my learning curve.
In what way did IE University help you secure this opportunity and perform during the internship?
The Talent & Careers Department—especially Laura Simon, my advisor—was really helpful during every step of the internship process. Once I received confirmation that I had an online interview, Laura shared a lot of tips about effective ways to perform well with video interviews and convey a positive attitude despite the global uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. This gave me the self-confidence to deal with my stress and do my best during the interview.
With the ongoing pandemic, working online at IE University and using technology on a daily basis considerably helped me adapt to working remotely. The time management skills I gained through group and individual projects at IE University also allowed me to successfully work under pressure and deal with strict deadlines within the embassy, especially with the follow-ups on the health crisis in Spain and Morocco.
What would you highlight about this experience?
Despite working from home, I had the chance to meet and work with incredible people who made me feel like I was part of their family. It was an amazing overall experience where I received constant feedback and advice on how to improve my work, and I was able to get involved in as many of the embassy’s internal activities as possible.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m incredibly honored and grateful for this opportunity. It‘s not often that non-nationals have the opportunity to work in an embassy and witness the way it works during a global crisis. I’ve learned so much about myself, both on a professional and personal level.
I would highly recommend everyone to take as many opportunities as they can to work in embassies or other public institutions to learn more about international relations in a practical setting. This experience will always have a special place in my heart for allowing me to challenge myself and for teaching me to work in a complex volatile situation during the pandemic.