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United States Embassy, Slovenia

Maria Sedmak

"This summer I spent ten weeks working for the U.S. State Department abroad at the United States Embassy in beautiful Ljubljana, Slovenia. As an intern in the Political, Economic and Commercial Section, I experienced a lot pertinent to my International Business major and Slavic and East European Studies minor. U.S. Embassy Ljubljana is a very small embassy so I got to work hands on with a variety of different topic areas, whereas in bigger embassies the sections that I worked in would be separated. With my fluency in the Slovenian language, due to my heritage, and the busy moving that happened during the summer season I became a real asset to my section as an equivalent of a Junior Foreign Service Officer.

When I arrived in June my section chief and the only other Foreign Service officer were scheduled to leave in a few weeks. The only other employee was a temporary Civil Servant who was serving in Ljubljana for only six months. This provided a realistic view of an embassy during these months, with everyone coming and going, and within a few weeks of their leaving three more officers arrived, including a section chief as my new boss. Preceding and during their arrival I prepared them with information regarding the current events. I was greatly helped by the three Foreign Service Nationals, whose employment created stability within the section. Much research and reports needed to be written up. My other duties included writing up cables to be sent to Washington, delivering demarches to Slovenian government officials, and practicing public diplomacy. One of my favorite experiences with public diplomacy was speaking at a camp for Roma children in a more destitute part of Slovenia about America and American culture.

During my time at the embassy I was also able to experience other sections of the Foreign Service. I spent some time in the consular section, some more time as the secretary to the Deputy Chief of Mission, and since my roommates were interns in the Public Affairs section, I also attended events with them. At the end of my tour the embassy was filled with the excitement of a new Ambassador (Chief of Mission) arriving, which the embassy has not had since 2008. Although the work was sometime tedious and long hours were put in and no pay was received, the glamour of being a Foreign Service Officer was realized. We were very lucky as the embassy was able to accommodate me and the two other interns in a very marvelous apartment, that would normally belong to the Ambassador's secretary. I also was able to attend an array of receptions, meetings and conferences, which opened the doors to meeting many people in the Slovenian government. There was also time to travel all around Slovenia and surrounding countries!

Overall my experience was amazing. I suggest anybody who is interested in the Foreign Service or working abroad to apply for an internship with the U.S. State Department."