Camilo Caballero is a senior INTA major, originally from Colombia, South America, who transferred to Georgia Tech during spring 2012. Immediately he enrolled in courses around his interests in Latin America and European studies, and applied for an internship with the US Department of State. In his second semester at Tech, he interned with the US Embassy in Spain and was awarded another internship the following spring with the US Embassy in Peru. Now a US Citizen, Camilo is committed to being a public servant. From his volunteer work with low-income elementary students to service in student government, Camilo is gaining valuable leadership skills and responsibility. He intends to continue being of service, and also pursue graduate school through a federal fellowship program, preferably with the US Department of State. We asked him a few questions about his internships with the US Department of State, and how his time at Tech helped him succeed in his internship.
What do/did you enjoy most about your internship and what do/did you find most challenging?
These internships at the Embassies in Madrid and in Lima have been very valuable to my career, because of the challenging assignments that take me out of my comfort zone. From the first day, the Foreign Service officers put me to work, and treated all of the interns like any other staffer. Catching up with the role and knowledge of a Foreign Service officer is difficult, especially because of their familiarity with every topic of interest about the host nation including economic, political and education issues. Mid-way through the internship, after many hours spent writing reports to Washington and attending meetings, I’d tend to forget about that I am just an intern and began to feel comfortable delivering my service to the foreign mission.
Tell us about an experience that made an impression on you during your internship.
I have participated in a series of events that I did not expect to experience. Some of which are normal and routine for a Foreign Service officer, but as an intern, I was astonished to be part of the occasion. Earlier this year, I shared a seat with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia while he interviewed for the newspaper, El Comercio. During that 25-minute interview, I recorded his responses for internal records. There were only 4 people in the room, and I, the intern, was one of them. He is one of the most important persons I have ever met. It was a pretty cool experience!
In what ways did your time at Tech prepare you for the internship?
The most valuable attribute of the INTA courses are the instructors. It is unparalleled to have the opportunity to learn from professors who previously held positions related to foreign affairs. They teach from experience, making the lectures feel like on-site job training. One of my professors, Jennie Lincoln, touched on the topic of international elections observers from her personal experience. During my internship in Peru, I was able to speak about it with an officer, who then offered the opportunity to participate as an American international observer in a municipality election in Lima. This is just one example of many lessons that have allowed my internship to expand into broader learning opportunities that are not part of the internship description.