Harpswell students keep busy throughout the school year. Many have internships, participate in competitions, and engage in other leadership activities for personal and professional development. We sat down with Meas Socheata ‘21 to talk about her internship at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Socheata supported the Front Office (FO), which included the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia (ABM), the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), and their personal assistants.
Where are you attending school and what are you studying? What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I am a junior student majoring in Global Affairs at the American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP). After graduating from college, I would like to join the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to become a diplomat.
How did you find the internship? What attracted you to the internship?
I learned about the internship from the U.S. Embassy’s Facebook page. What attracted me to apply for the internship was that I would have a chance to observe the embassy’s systematic framework and diplomats’ daily tasks. Furthermore, I would expose myself to working and communicating in a diplomatic way, which I believe I wouldn’t get in the classroom.
What skills did you learn during your internship? How do you think the skills will help you with your next internship or job?
I learned to be more flexible and improved my interpersonal and communication skills. I also enhanced my time management, leadership, problem-solving, administrative, event planning, and management skills. Furthermore, I absorbed more social skills to improve my maturity in expressing and dressing, which unexpectedly boosted my self-esteem.
I believe these skills will prepare me for my future career as a diplomat. To accomplish this ambitious goal, having only academic skills is not enough, but we should master soft skills, such as those mentioned above.
What challenges did you face during your internship? How did you overcome them?
When I was interning, I was also attending academic classes. Working while studying is never an easy task. I overcame this challenge by trying to manage my time wisely. I tried to sort out my work into different urgency and importance levels. Moreover, I tried not to mix my work and academic life. When I was at school, I only focused on studying, and at work, I only focused on my work.
Another challenge is my shy personality when I interacted with my superiors. Working with American leadership, especially in the embassy, we should be brave, energetic, and dare to ask a lot of questions, because they love these personalities. Growing up in a hierarchical society, being nervous and shy in front of the superiors is not a new thing for me, and maybe for many other Cambodian as well. I overcame this by trying to face my fear. Though I was nervous and shy to talk to the Ambassador and other American supervisors, I tried to have a conversation and express my opinion as much as I could. Whenever I had a doubt, I asked them questions. After doing it many times, I came to realize that I should not be afraid of them.
What did you enjoy most about the internship?
Throughout the internship, I was treated professionally and equally as the staff and given equal rights to express my opinion and belief. On top of that, the staff there were professional and understanding, which makes the U.S. Embassy one of the most productive and pleasant workplaces out there. For me, these are the most enjoyable things about this internship.
What advice would you give to other Harpswell women who are interested in interning at the U.S. Embassy?
For sisters who wish to experience working at the U.S Embassy, I would recommend to prepare yourselves from now on by looking up to the requirements of your favorite position, prepare yourselves for the Embassy’s English test, and get out from your comfort zone to explore new things and get new skills to fit in with their requirements. If you failed before, never give up but apply until you pass, because VICTORY goes to those who PERSEVERE.