Tag Archives: Public Affairs

Megan Soule Builds Network in Public Affairs at DOS

This summer I lived in Washington, D.C. as an intern with the U.S. Department of State. At State I worked in the Office of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications (PASC) within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). ECA works to build friendly, peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships. My office oversaw all public affairs and digital communications for the entire bureau. Some of the program offices we worked with were Fulbright, CLS, Education USA, and Edward R. Murrow Fellows program.

PASC is made up of a group of videographers, photographers, graphic designers, data analysts, web developers, and public affairs practitioners. I worked on projects with all aspects of our office, but mainly I served as a digital designer. I led the design of the Discovery Diplomacy brand through the U.S. Diplomacy Center and the redesign of the International Education Week branding (look out for it November 14th-18th this year). Over the course of twelve weeks I was put in charge of designing the design guidelines for ECA that will then be used to shape all public diplomacy for the entire State Department. The design guide that I created was presented to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and other public diplomacy officers in D.C. and at posts.

I was lucky enough to be given a lot of responsibility as an intern and be able to head several high priority projects. Everyday I was putting the skills I had learned in the Public Diplomacy program to use. Since my officer served as the in-house digital communications team it was not only our job to produce content, but to ask why this campaign or this method of presenting information was necessary. I spent much of time team researching objectives, goals, and target audiences of programs so that I could create the most effective and engaging design materials for each office.

While I was at State I was able to meet many Syracuse alumni across many bureaus and across government agencies. Even being in D.C. for only three months allowed me to significantly grow my network. Every week I was able to meet with one or two alums to talk about life after Syracuse, tips they had for me in their first jobs, and other career advice they were willing to share. Most of all this summer has also helped me shape where I want my career to start after Syracuse. I am excited to be continuing my internship virtually with my office in the Fall and back in D.C. in the Spring.

Megan Soule, 10,000 Women Dinner with First Lady, Michelle Obama at the U.S. Department of State

Megan Soule, 10,000 Women Dinner with First Lady, Michelle Obama at the U.S. Department of State

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Bureaucracy: How Things Get Done in Foreign Affairs

This post has been reblogged from PAIA Insider. Read the original post.

BY

Beth Gawne is a MPA/MAIR student, and  a regular contributor to PAIA Insider.

I’ve been thinking about bureaucracy a lot lately, especially as I hit my 4th week in the Department of State. This past summer, the MPA students took “Public Administration and Democracy,” where we learned that basically bureaucracy exists to get things done. Sure, there’s the glitz and glamor of policy and politics, but when it gets down to it, bureaucracy lies at the heart of a functioning society. Of course, back then my impression of what that meant was in terms of making sure the lights come on and the buses run (sometimes even on time). However, I never realized how that related to foreign affairs until now.

Source: http://media.fakeposters.com/results/2012/01/28/zniah5e4q3.jpg
Not even tanks can escape the bureaucracy of the toll booth operator!

Bureaucracy helps make US embassies safe. Bureaucracy uphold US diplomatic relationships with other nations. Bureaucracy keeps nasty weapons out of the wrong hands. Heck… bureaucracies even help us MAIR interns get to our internships when we fly! When it comes to State Department bureaucracy, there’s a lot of waiting around for clearances, for badges, and even for access to a computer. You have to check a document that 10 other people have checked, then forward it on for 5 more people to check over. I used to think this was over-kill, but then when I considered what might happen without these checks… well, those things that I mentioned in the first few sentences might not be the case anymore. International security and foreign relations might be compromised without these basic steps that so annoy all of us.

Whether it’s diplomacy, humanitarian aid, international organizations, trade, or nonproliferation, bureaucracy makes sure that policies can be put into place. It helps the right people get the right resources in order to make sure everyone can do their job. Without it, we’d just have a bunch of words and nothing being done. All of the things that people want to actually do in the world wouldn’t be able to happen if bureaucrats weren’t rolling up their sleeves and typing up some memos to an embassy. It’s just amazed me how many of the officers in DOS rely on this kind of bureaucracy to make sure things happen. International relations isn’t just a set of theories and abstract concepts about security or development work…. instead it’s filled with real people doing real work to make the world a better place. And the rules that govern them help keep it all relatively in order despite everything that’s working against it.

source: http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-the-only-thing-that-saves-us-from-bureaucracy-is-its-inefficiency-an-efficient-bureaucracy-is-the-eugene-mccarthy-330947.jpg
(source: http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-the-only-thing-that-saves-us-from-bureaucracy-is-its-inefficiency-an-efficient-bureaucracy-is-the-eugene-mccarthy-330947.jpg)

If it’s one last thing I’ve learned in the State Department– besides lots of foreign affairs– it’s that MAIR students learn just as much about bureaucracy as MPA students. We may not have the requirement to take the specific class on it (although thanks to Maxwell we’re still 100% able to take the class), but we sure as heck learn about it during our time here anyway. The internship has been an incredible way to take all of the big concepts we learned in the classroom in Syracuse and apply it directly to what we want to be doing in the first place. This is even more important when you consider how hard it is to get your foot in the door in some of these places.

Also, it wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the mad writing skills that Maxwell has helped me gain– I’ve gotten so many compliments on my memos!

 To find out about how Beth Gawne’s experiences at the State Department began, read her other article: Intern by day, student by night.

Beth Gawne waves to her fellow Maxwell students from the United States Department of State in Washington, DC.

Beth Gawne waves to her fellow Maxwell students from the United States Department of State in Washington, DC.

Alex W. – The Public Affairs Sector in Washington

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The inside of a typical office building in Washington – Souce: Voice of America

This fall, I interned at a public affairs consulting firm. Thanks to this experience I learned a tremendous amount about the professional expectations of Washington DC and the political culture of our nation’s capital. Continue reading