A&S Senior Takes Part in Internship with U.S. Department of State

By Tasha Ramsey

When given the option, some students would jump at the chance to graduate early. But for Mason King, a senior double majoring in Spanish and political science at the University of Kentucky, the decision to forego an early graduation date in order to take part in an internship with the U.S. Department of State is one he doesn't regret.

In the spring of 2015, King learned that he could choose to participate in the December commencement rather than take another semester of classes to stay on his four-year track. Seeing this as an opportunity to extend his education rather than starting his career search an entire semester early, King set out in search of internships instead.

“I really didn’t care to rush my undergraduate experience and an internship was a good way to balance out my resume," King said.

A native of Lexington, King has always had a passion for travel. This passion is one that led him to seek out experiences abroad during his time as a UK student. In 2014, King spent a semester in Cusco, Peru, participating in an intensive Spanish program. After this semester abroad, King became an Education Abroad Peer Ambassador in order to “advise other students interested in different education abroad, research abroad, and teach abroad programs that are offered in conjunction with UK.”

During his internship search last spring, King came across the U.S. Department of State Internship Program and he knew "it would be a great fit."

The U.S. Department of State Internship Program provides students the opportunity to work in U.S. Embassies and Consulates in various countries around the world, bureaus located in Washington, D.C., and in many Department offices around the United States.

The internship placed King in Asunción, Paraguay, working in the Office of Public Diplomacy at the United States Embassy. During his time in Paraguay, King gained invaluable experience that has prepared him for a future career in law.

“I really have an interest in going into law with the end goal of practicing human rights activism, like an international law focus,” King said. “A lot of the things they let me do at the Embassy were great for just preparing me for my career.”

Instead of  being just a “copies and coffees” type of intern, King’s time at the Office of Public Diplomacy in Paraguay was well spent. He delivered speeches on behalf of the Embassy and at graduation ceremonies across the state, taught classes about the Commonwealth and Kentucky politics and culture to college-aged students interested in learning English, and helped to draft speeches for the ambassador and planned events for her schedule.

“There were a lot of really diverse things that they had me take part in. It was neat because it really gave me an insight into the way that American foreign policy is actually being implemented under the current administration,” remarked King. “The whole experience definitely made me think that maybe a couple years in the Foreign Service and being a diplomat would be a cool chapter in my life.”

As a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, King praises the education and support he has received from faculty members. “A&S has given me a really nice holistic idea of what kind of world we live in and has allowed me to interlace my majors in a great way. All of my Spanish professors have been phenomenal and have been able to instill an appreciation and love for the language that has really been invaluable not only in my college career but as a very useful tool for my future. Dr. Voss and Dr. Waterman in the political science department have been great too."

When asked if he has any advice to give to current college students or students about to embark on their college journey, King encourages them to study abroad and take advantage of the plethora of internships and opportunities out there.

"It can be intimidating sometimes, but there are people out there to help you navigate the waters. Just go out and do it!"

The application period for the U.S Department of State Internship Program's Fall 2016 internships began in mid-January with a deadline of March 1. To learn more about the program, visit http://careers.state.gov/intern/student-internships.

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