Check in to the Summer Adventures of an Embassy Intern in Latvia!

Hello NSN members,

My name is Natalie and I’m the Director of the Student Ambassador Program- and soon to be, intern at the Canadian embassy in Latvia!

Right now, I’m sitting in my living room, surrounded by boxes. Over the next few days, I will be packing up my place and putting my belongings into storage, because I’m headed off to Riga, Latvia for the summer to take on an intern position at the Canadian embassy. Latvia is a tiny country, located between Estonia and Lithuania, with Russia to the East and the Baltic Sea to the West. Although the country had various foreign rulers between the 13th and 20th century, it has retained many if its original folkloric traditions.

So how did I get so lucky? To be honest, that’s something I’ve been asking myself lately. To give you some backstory: after I graduated in 2012 with an undergraduate degree in English literature, I got a job working as an administrative assistant. The plan was to work for a year and save some money before heading off to teacher’s college. Which worked out really well- until I realized I didn’t want to become a teacher.

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I had a passion for world issues and current events. This led me to research alternate programs, and I discovered the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at UOttawa. The program takes a multidisciplinary approach, focusing on both public and international policy issues. Students are exposed to ethical issues, economics, and practical skills, such as learning to write briefing notes, all of which prepares students for the workforce. Additionally, there is a strong hands-on learning component, with opportunities to participate in coop and work as an embassy intern.

Every semester, the school organizes approximately 10 embassy internships. The call for applications to summer embassy placements went out in December. The process is fairly competitive-after submitting a resume and letter of intent, students need to impress a panel of interviewers who include professors, former diplomats, and other members of the Canadian Public Service. While you can express an interest in certain postings throughout the process, there is no guarantee you will be posted at the embassy of your choice.

Personally, I wanted to go to Riga. It is a small embassy, which offers interns the potential to work on various portfolios and to participate in a multitude of projects. It’s also an incredibly interesting time for Latvia-the Ukraine crisis has heightened security concerns in the Baltic region. Furthermore, this year Latvia holds the Presidency of the EU Council. The presidency is a six month term, and the presiding country chairs council meetings, influences agendas, and facilitates dialogue with other EU institutions. During the presidency, Latvia is expected to host over 200 meetings on various issues.

The purpose of my upcoming blog posts is to give you an idea of what living and working abroad is like. Hopefully it will help some of you decide whether you want to pursue similar opportunities. I will try to update you weekly. I look forward to sharing my experiences with the NSN community!

Until next time,

Natalie

 

Photo Credit: Karlis Dambrans via photopin CC

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