Megan Van Sambeek, a junior double majoring in International Studies and Spanish at the UW-Stevens Point, recently received a 10-week internship through the U.S. State Department Bureau.
“My internship is with the U.S. Department of State. I will be working in the American Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay,” VanSambeek said.
VanSambeek’s internship will begin in January 2013. She will be in the public diplomacy department and will be the public relations arm of the embassy team, responsible for disseminating information to the Uruguayan public and organizing cultural events.
“I applied for the internship because I thought it would be a good opportunity and there were so many options of bureaus to apply for that sounded really interesting,” VanSambeek said.
VanSambeek was shocked when she received an email stating that she was selected as a primary and that her internship would be almost 6,000 miles away.
“I never thought I would actually be chosen. I could compare it to people buying lottery tickets. Everybody knows that the odds are against them, but they buy them anyways hoping that they might be the lucky one,” VanSambeek said. “Obviously my odds for the internship were a little bit better than the lottery, but I still didn’t think I had much of a chance just because I go to a small school and don’t have a 4.0.”
Van Sambeek loves to travel. She has traveled abroad in Valladolid, Spain and will be participating in a study in Cuba from January 6 to the 20 this coming year. She has also been to Xalapa, Mexico with her Rotary Youth Exchange Program in High School.
“I have always loved traveling! It is such a rush to go somewhere you have never been where the culture and people are so much different than your own. I also love taking pictures, and the world is full of beautiful places,” VanSambeek said.
Sarah Kent, the International Studies Coordinator, is very excited for VanSambeek and glad that she applied.
“Megan is the only one that applied for the internship so far. I think she is a little unnerved, but thrilled. I know it will be a wonderful experience for her. Montevideo is quite a developed place. I believe students work mostly on secretarial things, like filing things away, and if she’s lucky she’ll be able to sit in on a conference,” Kent said.
Kent loves her job and says that the best part is working with the students.
“International Studies attracts large amounts of students who have international career goals in mind. All of my teaching is area specific, so it’s interesting working with students to see where they can best develop their skills,” Kent said.
Kent believes that one of the reasons VanSambeek had an extra edge over other students who applied is because she is also a Spanish major. Knowing another language is an advantage for internships like this. It is very tough to become a Foreign Service Officer, but the internship allows students to experience the difficult career.
“I am most excited about traveling to a new country and other travel opportunities while I am there. I hope to learn about the everyday functions of an American embassy and more about what it is like to be a Foreign Service officer,” VanSambeek said. “I also hope to learn the South American style of Spanish, because I already have learned Mexican Spanish and Spain Spanish.”