Appalachian State University student Sarah Caudill had an excellent internship this summer. As a student earning a Bachelor of Science in sociology with a concentration in social inequalities, Sarah wanted an internship where she could test her sociological skills, gain more insight into national issues, and expand social networks. Through a highly competitive process, Sarah was selected to be an intern with the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Academic Exchanges, Studies of the U.S. Branch. Sarah stated, “I got this internship because I applied via USAJobs, and upon seeing that I studied abroad in South Africa and attend Appalachian, which is one of the partner institutes for the Fellowship, I was contacted about an interview and immediately accepted an interview for the next day. A week later I was beginning my clearance process paperwork for Diplomatic Security.”
Sarah primarily worked on the Mandela Washington Fellowship. This fellowship serves 700 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have made a serious and positive impact in their communities. She also helped to write speeches, drafted memos for the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and provided information for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson to use in his speech.
Sarah believes that sociology was very helpful to navigate her experiences during the internship. “Sociology was very useful in helping me see the bigger picture of the programs of the State Department. Not only did I get to experience what participants could accomplish through the various programs offered by the State, but it also was able to see how amazing it was that individuals from other countries working with such a massive institution such as the U.S. Government. I honestly had no idea what I was going to be doing when I got there but I loved every minute of it.”
Sarah also believes that every student should have an internship experience before graduating. She suggested that students take time to plan their internships and understand their roles as an intern. She stated, “be proactive, don’t be afraid to ask for more work or if you can go to an event that is happening that will help you grow as a person, student, or employee. Be professional, available, and focus on how you can learn and assist with any task set in front of you.”