My internships with ‘Latin American News Digest,’ State Department

Name: Edward O. Kennedy Jr.

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana

Adopted hometown: Miami, Florida

Major: I’m working on for my master’s in Latin American and Caribbean studies and expect to graduate in December 2018.  I’m also considering a Ph.D. in international relations.

Where did you intern? What did you do there? I’m an unpaid “virtual” intern for two organizations, one in the private sector and one in the public sector. The private sector internship is with the Latin American News Digest, an online news magazine, and the other is with the State Department of the United States. For both these internships, I work remotely from Miami.

For the Latin American News Digest, my supervisor sends me, once a week, several links to news articles from Latin American news sources, written in Spanish. My job is to translate them to English and to summarize, synthesize, and aggregate them.

My unpaid internship with the State Department is very similar, only this internship focuses on Mexico. My “portfolio,” as it is called with the State Department, is following events related to the political party Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), and following political, cultural and economic developments in the states of Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur. Twice a week, I translate the news articles from Spanish to English and then summarize, synthesize, and aggregate them for the Foreign Service officers located in the American embassy in Mexico City.

Did you work on any special projects? The Latin American News Digest does not publish in July, but my supervisor gave me the opportunity to do my own research and aggregate my own article, with a byline, during the month of July 2016. I wrote about the current economic situation in Venezuela.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? Last semester, my class at FIU was “Writing Professionally for Political Science.” What I learned in the class I used immediately in my work for the State Department, and vice versa. My professor at FIU and my supervisors at my internships even used the same jargon when advising me about writing political intelligence briefs!

What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship? It hasn’t happened yet, but my wife and I will be taking a vacation to Mexico this November and we’re planning to have dinner with my supervisor at the American embassy in Mexico City. To improve my Spanish, I will not speak any English while I’m in Mexico.

What did you like most about your experience? Both internships are helping me improve my political science writing skills. Upon graduation, which I estimate to be in December of 2018, I hope to retire from my current career (which has nothing to do with political science or Latin America) after 38 years and embark on new a new journey with new challenges. I hope to use what I’ve learned in the internships to work toward reducing poverty and income/wealth inequality in Latin America. Meanwhile, I would like to work part-time as a paid or unpaid intern for a company that does business in Latin America.

How did the position increase your professional confidence? I am learning a great deal about Mexican culture; I feel like I know what I am talking about when I write about politics in Mexico.

How did you expand your professional network? These internships are definitely on my resume and LinkedIn profile. Before graduation and before my retirement, I am already searching for new career opportunities with the help of Maria Tomaino, who is associate director of Alumni Relations.  I am already an alumnus of FIU since I graduated in 2008 with a master’s in business administration.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” This semester, I am taking “Immigration Law” and will be able to use what I learn in class directly in my work for the State Department. Immigration from Mexico to the United States is a hot topic right now.

How did you get your internship? I received emails from the academic advisor at FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center announcing the internships.  Then, I scheduled an appointment with Eric Feldman, who is the LACC/FIU School of Education Latin American and Caribbean internship program coordinator. Eric gave me valuable advice on how to best apply for the internships, such as resume preparation and cover letter styles. I also got valuable advice from Tomaino.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Study more and sleep less.  You can sleep when you’re dead.