Peter Hylton, IAML 2008, has traveled to over 20 countries on four continents. His interest in cultures and travel abroad led him to an internship with the US Commercial Service, in summer 2008. We asked him a few questions about his internship with the Mission to the European Union, based in Brussels, Belgium 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?
What I enjoyed most was researching European Union trade regulations and then applying what I had learned to concrete cases. For example, I had the chance to study European Union regulations on pharmaceutical products. Afterwards, the office received a question from an American pharmaceutical company trying to export its products to Europe. I was able to be part of the team that helped this company understand how the regulations applied to its operations, which helped get it onto the European market.
Applying knowledge from research was the most enjoyable, but also the most challenging part of the internship. There is often a large difference between theory and practice, and only experience can teach a person how to navigate the two. Likewise, there are countless European Union regulations, and becoming familiar with all of them is the work of a career.
Tell us about an experience that made an impression on you during your internship.
There were several times when I attended conferences put on by the European Commission on important policy topics, like counterfeiting and economic growth. Major EU figures led these conferences, and the attendees were mostly influential Brussels bureaucrats, and representatives from non-governmental organizations and embassies. For example, I attended a conference outlining the EU’s policy for economic growth in industry led by the Vice-President of the European Commission, Gunter Verheugen, and during which I spoke with representatives from important European consultancies and interest groups. These conferences gave me an exceptional opportunity to see how the political world at the heart of the European Union really functions from the inside.
In what ways did your time at Tech prepare you for the internship?
Georgia Tech gave me all the analytical tools I needed to succeed in my internship. Much of my work required analysis of theory and its application to real-world cases, and my courses had trained me in just this sort of work. Furthermore, my international affairs classes built research, writing, and public speaking skills that I used in many projects. Finally, any student at Georgia Tech develops time-management skills and a work ethic that will be useful in nearly any job.
I enjoyed my internship with the US Commercial Service, and I would be very interested in working on international trade issues in Washington. However, I am open to many possibilities in and out of government.