Rachel is from Long Beach, Calif., and entered the FAIT Fellowship program as she began her Master of Science in Information Systems Technology program at George Washington University. She successfully completed the Fellowship and is now a Foreign Service Information Management Specialist. You can view this interview on video here.
Thinking of the overall FAIT Fellowship program experience over the past 2 years, can you describe how the program has affected you either personally or professionally?
Over the last two years the FAIT Fellowship has been really great both professionally and personally for me. I have been going to school for two years and I have four new best friends – the other Fellows. We were always communicating whenever we had issues, whether it was with academics or with the Fellowship, or choosing where we wanted to go for the internships. They were always there for me just to discuss anything, whether it was for those things or just for personal things like movies coming out. It’s been really great personally because I met these people who I would never have met before. Now we have this really close relationship and it’s going to last because we’re all joining as IMS’s.
What did you value the most from your internship in Washington, DC?
In my internship in Washington, D.C., I had a wonderful time learning what the D.C. offices were responsible for. I had experience with embassies abroad and I had always just heard about the D.C. offices, but I didn’t really understand what they did or how they impacted both Americans in the U.S. and also Americans both at the Embassy and living outside of the Embassy. It was a great opportunity to learn who the important contacts are, what they are trying to accomplish related to the mission of the State Department and the United States as a whole.
Where was your internship abroad and can you share your most memorable experience during that internship?
For my overseas internship I was in Shanghai China. My most memorable experience in Shanghai was helping out with the VIP visit during the summer and it was a really great experience seeing how everyone was working towards a common goal. The number of hours and the effort that everyone put in was amazing. And when it was wheels up at the end, everyone just had a party, and it was pretty awesome to see how everyone was so thankful for what each of the individual offices did.
Do you have advice for students thinking about applying?
If a student’s thinking about applying to this program, just do it. There’s nothing stopping you if you are interested in anything related to IT. If you want to learn more about what the United States does for both Americans and for foreign policy, absolutely apply. It’s an amazing adventure and you won’t regret applying.
Any tips for students working on their FAIT Fellowship application?
I would highly recommend checking out the 12 Dimensions [of a Successful Foreign Service Specialist Candidate]. Those are the qualities that the State Department is looking for when they’re hiring information management specialists. Look back at your experiences – things that you’ve enjoyed doing both in school and in work, and if those dimensions match with your experience then this is the fellowship for you. This is something that you should 100% apply for.