Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Apprentice

We have an intern. And not just any intern, but an intern who actually wanted to come to Conakry. An intern who is mainly interested in things that fall in the Econ portfolio. In other words, I have an intern. I am so not prepared for this.

I too interned for State, lo these many years ago. That 2-month stint in the Econ section of Embassy Brussels was what pushed me over from "hmm, this FS thing looks kind of interesting maybe" to "THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE." The work was interesting, but I also remember being really impressed with the intelligence, experience, and professionalism of my bosses and coworkers. You know, mentor-types.

Of course our intern (hereinafter referred to, quite creatively, as Intern) will have a rather different internship experience than I did. Obviously, there's a big difference between Brussels and Conakry. But I also spent my intern summer in a mid-sized, fully-staffed, well-run dedicated Econ section where everyone was at least on their second tour and many officers were quite experienced. Conversely, Intern will pass her summer in a tiny, short-staffed, disorganized combination Pol/Econ section essentially consisting of two somewhat frantic and frazzled first-tour officers making things up as they go along. Somehow I suspect I will not be making quite as stunning an impression on Intern as my bosses made on me.

On the other hand, Intern is a Pickering Fellow, which means she's already signed a contract in blood and sold her soul to the Foreign Service for four years in exchange for a graduate school education, so we don't really have to woo her. She's already roped in, so seeing FS life up close, warts and all, will be useful preparation for her not-so-distant future. The Real World: Embassy Conakry - when people stop being diplomatic and start getting real. Just kidding. We're always diplomatic; it's what we do. But around here there's plenty of reality to go around.

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