By Brian Kressin
The U.S. Consulate in Karachi’s internship program, which just finished its second year, was a first for Mission Pakistan. Once the consulate received approval in the spring of 2018, they reached out to the top three universities in Karachi seeking a diverse group of students to participate in the program.
ConGen Karachi had four goals when they initiated their internship program: job experience for the interns; assistance with workload; helping to train the next generation of leaders; and creating a successful outreach opportunity highlighting American diplomacy in Pakistan. Everything about the internship was meant to be a learning experience—from the application process and professional interviews held in front of a panel, to the medical and security clearances and the security checks when entering the compound. Weekly brown bag sessions were held to allow the interns the opportunity to connect with consulate leadership and staff and encourage them to learn as much as possible.
The interns were able to participate in meaningful projects, including writing a research paper on solid waste for USAID; assisting with cultural exchange programs for Public Affairs; working with the Foreign Commercial Service and American and Pakistani business contacts to increase U.S.-Pakistani bilateral trade; sitting in on job interviews with Human Resources; and creating databases with the IT section.
One of the highlights of the 2019 internship program allowed the interns to share their experiences through the creation of a promotional video which offered insight into their time at the consulate. When the video was released on Consulate General Karachi’s Facebook page, it attracted more than 6,000 views and 60 comments within 24 hours. Two weeks later, the video had 126,000 views and 2,000 comments, resulting in many potential interns reaching out to ConGen Karachi who were interested in participating in next year’s program.
ConGen Karachi plans to use the video to both recruit future interns and to highlight American diplomacy in Pakistan. The internship program, however, not only benefitted ConGen Karachi, but the interns were able to gain immeasurable experience on the value of diplomacy.
One of the 2019 interns stated, “After coming here, I got to know so much about the U.S. government and the innumerable amount of good work that it has been doing for Pakistan.”
Brian Kressin is a management officer at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.