Interning with the Department of State

Seal of the US State Department
Seal of the US State Department

Each year, the MAIR program has a number of students pursue internships with the U.S. Department of State at home and abroad.  The class that entered in 2013 could count among their number students who worked in the US Embassy in Cyprus, the US Embassy in the Philippines, US Embassy in Singapore as well as colleagues in the bureaus of African Affairs, Conflict and Stabilization OperationsInternational Security and Non-Proliferation, and Population, Refugees and Migration. Since the Department’s Internship Application will open on Monday, September 2, 2014 and close on October 17, 2014, those of you interested in the opportunity will need to work quickly to make sure that your application materials are submitted on time. More information about State Department Internships is below the fold.

State Department internships are generally divided into two main categories, (1) internships at State Department Headquarters in Washington, generally in one of the multiple bureaus located there, or (2) one of the 256 overseas embassies, consulates, missions, or interest sections.  Unfortunately, due to security reasons, interns are not assigned to hardship or danger posts.

Headquarters Opportunities

The work done by students at State Department Headquarters in Washington includes serving as backstopping staff to country desk officers, foreign service specialists, or resource specialists.  Most of the Department’s functional and regional bureaus will host interns. This includes even the Office of the Secretary of State, often known as “line” interns.

Overseas Mission Opportunities

The work done by interns in overseas missions parallels the work done by Foreign Service Officers in the five primary cones.  This includes Consular, Economic, Management, Political and Public Diplomacy officers.


While DoS Internships are generally unpaid, they do carry a number of benefits.  The first being a secret-level security clearance, which has become a prerequisite for many jobs within the Federal Government’s foreign policy sphere.  The second is that many overseas missions will provide insight into housing opportunities either at a discount or for free in mission-rented or owned space. Finally, the most important benefit is that State Department staff have created a bureaucratic culture unique among international organizations and it is important to understand how to effectively operate in that realm if one wants to pursue a career in it.