We at Hermiona love summer. With our students at top schools and universities across the United States, it’s exciting to receive photos and text messages from them. We spend months preparing for summer every year — and it gets better each time! But what we often forget is that summer programs and experiences aren’t just for high school students. Many of our consultants and tutors participate in them, myself included!
This summer, I interned at the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty, Kazakhstan, thanks to the U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program. I also won an award from Princeton University called the SINSI (Scholars in the Nation’s Service) award, a grant that funds students’ summer federal government internships. This was a huge help since airfare, visa fees, and living expenses add up quickly. I would like to mention that my university is traditionally very generous in funding students’ international (and domestic) and travel, provided that it is educational.
As an intern at the consulate, I got to work on a lot of different projects: I wrote cables (reports) to the U.S. government on various issues (in one case, I wrote the first report on the subject!), traveled to natural parks to research ecotourism, dressed up as Betsy Ross and greeted guests at our Fourth of July party, served as an interpreter in meetings, and so much more. Especially valuably, I had the opportunity to meet the experts and policymakers in my area of interest, so I hope to maintain relationships with them throughout my future career.
My internship also afforded me plenty of opportunities to attend glitzy events! For example, the Consul General invited the interns to the French consulate’s Bastille Day party and the opening of Cadillac Almaty. I also served as the notetaker at a meeting between the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US in Kazakhstan and the new mayor of Almaty. These are events that I’d never get to visit otherwise!
One of the other big perks of spending my summer in Kazakhstan was being close to my favorite part of the world — Central Asia! I spent my previous summer in Almaty, and the one before that in Dushanbe (the capital of Tajikistan). I am really close to my friends and family in Tajikistan, so when my internship ended, I went there for a week, and then I met my father in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan! And since Almaty is so close to Kyrgyzstan, my fellow interns and I once went to Issyk-Kul, a beautiful lake in Kyrgyzstan, for the weekend. My internship location was ideal.
(This is me visiting the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi in Turkestan, a historic city in southern Kazakhstan. This was another weekend trip we took!
All in all, interning at the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty was a great way to spend the summer. I highly recommend it as a workplace for those looking for summer internships — and am open to your suggestions as to what I should consider for next summer!