Petra tells us her story…
As a second year student of Middle Eastern Studies and Middle Eastern Languages I was always interested in traveling, politics and international relations. The most suitable internship I could think of was at the Embassy. People often assume contacts are needed in order to get a placement there but it is not true.
The application process
Having e-mailed few Embassies of the Czech Republic around the world I received different responses. For instance some countries were rejecting applications this year due to the security situation in the Middle East. A positive response came around February from our Ambassador to Turkey, Mgr. Pavel Kafka who liked my motivation letter and CV. He suggested I apply officially through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It took two months and after completing some paperwork my one month summer internship in Ankara was secured.
What is it like working in an Embassy?
From my first day I was assigned an advisor – consul PhDr. Maria Opělová, CSc. who became the core person throughout my internship and a nice big office was given to me. During my stay in Ankara, I was introduced to the system of the Embassy, got an insight to all departments (economic, political, consular, diplomatic, etc.) and wrote many research papers on my own or in a team. Some of the topics were: Turkish approach to refugees, The United Cyprus Federation negotiations, prison system, Gazprom and Turkish stream, Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and many others.
One of my main duties was to keep up with the news and inform the department if there were any developments with the formation of coalition or Turkish-Kurdish peace process. I was following Turkish sources as I can read the language which was often very handy. I was also making translations of visa documents from Czech to Turkish that were being checked by a professional and a feedback was given to me. July was the month of Erasmus students applying for visas to go to the Czech Republic for the fall semester. I was in charge of Erasmus e-mail translation as well.
The most exciting part of my internship was the fact that Turkey went through parliamentary election in June, a month before I arrived. Also, July was a transitive period when the coalition could not be formed, Turkish-Kurdish peace process was proclaimed non-functioning anymore and violence escalated throughout the whole country. As a turning point of my internship I consider the explosion in Şanlıurfa, for which we became source number one for the Czech media covering it. It was exciting to receive a phone call from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Press department asking about my opinion on the issue.
So what next?
I enjoyed my internship as it gave me precious experiences, memories and I met interesting people. You should make the most of your internship as well and try to understand the workplace as much as you can with the reference to your field of study. I learned to be responsible, assertive, work to deadlines and under pressure. Moreover, most of the material I worked on were possible dissertation topics thus it was a good start for my final year research. The internship also made me think of a diplomatic career for the future and helped me to shape my masters degrees plans.
Paid or unpaid? How to finance your internship
Don’t be afraid of getting an unpaid internship. It has got the same value in your CV as paid ones. If you think you can’t afford it search for Work Experience Bursary at Careers or contact the University for more support as I did.