Blog 2 from Public Affairs Intern, Allison Aaronson - U.S. Mission to the EU

by tuftsigl
Aug 14

I couldn’t have picked a better time to intern at the U.S. mission to the EU, there is so much happening concerning the EU this summer! I showed up to the European Commission Monday right after a Greek bailout deal had finally been agreed upon, as bleary-eyed politicians and journalists filed out of the building to finally go to sleep (they were negotiating all night).  I had a front row seat to the Greek drama these past few weeks, but I felt rather helpless since the U.S. didn’t have much of a direct role in the talks.

            On the other hand, I’ve had the opportunity to become very involved in the tenth round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations, happening this week in Brussels.  T-TIP is a huge trade deal being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU, so I have been attending and helping out with smaller events related to the deal for the duration of my internship.  Last week I wrote a blog series about the transatlantic trade relationship as it stands currently to try to highlight the scale and success of U.S.-EU collaboration historically.  This week we are bringing journalists from all over Europe to the talks to help them report on the facts accurately.  I will be accompanying them to meetings with different think tanks and Members of European Parliament, as well as to the public stakeholder events and final press conference. 

            At this point, my biggest challenge has been balancing competing priorities and keeping track of a million little details.  In addition to the trade talks this week, I am organizing a briefing with EU stagiaires Thursday on transatlantic cooperation on sanctions policy (conveniently falling right after the Iran Deal announcement).  I also put together a lunch program for female interns on succeeding as a woman in government, with two Foreign Service Officers and Laura Hemmati, the cofounder of Leadarise.  Meanwhile, I must continue summarizing the news two mornings a week and analyzing our social media engagement.  I’ve learned to stay organized, pay attention to detail, and work efficiently.  Most importantly, I’ve had to be adaptable.  Last week the final blog for my blog series wasn’t available in time, so I had to quickly write a new one in an hour.   I work overtime often, but I don’t mind because I want to soak up as much as I can from these ten weeks.

            On a more personal note, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of networking.  I hate anything that is inauthentic, and I often put networking in this category.  But this summer, I have gotten lunch or coffee with a huge number of people, with no motivation other than to learn.  Approaching these meetings as a simply educational exchange has helped take the pressure off as well.  I used to assume that people would be too busy/important to meet with an intern, but my attitude now is that it never hurts to ask.  So far it’s working out, I even had the opportunity to sit down privately with the Deputy Chief of Mission last week.

            As the summer wraps up, I definitely hope to continue meeting and learning from as many people in Brussels as possible.  I’m also looking forward to participating in the Secretary of Commerce’s visit next week.  The same week (of course), I am organizing another briefing for EU stagiaires on Arctic collaboration.  Otherwise, I hope to complete a report on the demographics of the mission’s twitter followers by the end of my internship.  

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