Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The perks of being a fellow

While the whole paying-for-grad-school and joining-the-foreign-service thing seems to get front billing when people talk about Pickering, the internship program is worth a few blog posts of its own. (Especially now that I'm living the dream myself.) Just to clear up any confusion,internships at state are mostly the same for all students who work at State, whether they are SCEP, STEP, Pickering, Rangel, undergrad, grad, or any of the other variations on the theme. We all choose the bureaus we want to apply to, we all go through the same main orientation, we all do the same types of work, depending on our bureau. But for the fellows there a few extra benefits.

Benefit number one is of course the priority placement. The Pickerings I know are more likely to have recieved either their first or second choice bureau for the domestic internship.

Number two - fellows start their security clearance paperwork in the late spring, a full year before their internships start - other interns have less time. This means that fellows are some of the only interns who make it into the high clearance bureaus (the ones requiring Top Secret). It also means that, unlike other interns, fellows don't have to worry about missing out on their internships because they don't receive clearance in time. I've met half a dozen people who were accepted for internships but didn't get clearance in time to complete them, so this is actually a huge deal.

The third benefit is that our program comes with extra support designed to help us transition smoothly into the FS. There are seminars on writing for the FS, preparing for the OA, choosing the overseas internship, and all the ins and outs of the program itself. (Basically, they're covering all the information I spent the past year pestering them about.) And, best of all, we get to meet the other fellows and alums (why do I feel compelled to write alums and not alumni?). Who knows? Maybe they'll be able to tell me how to break into the illusive academic year paid internships. Right now my strategy involves baking for my coworkers, followed by groveling, we'll see.

(Actually, there's a fourth benefit. Whenever people hear you are a fellow they say, "Oh! You're a Pickering Fellow!" and then they introduce you as "So-and-so, he/she is our new Pickering Fellow!" I'm not sure yet if this is considered a bonus or more of a warning, a la 'Watch out, there's a putz in the office!' I'll have to work extra hard to make sure its the former.)

*The Student Programs page of the DoS website features these sample interns. We're really a very attractive bunch, aren't we? Though I have to say that I haven't met the interns who get to wear a t-shirt and cargo pants to work. If you want to join this prestigious and well-heeled group, check out the student programs website.

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