Yolanda Nosakhare successfully completed the Foreign Affairs Information Technology Fellowship program in 2021 while earning her bachelor’s degree at Loyola Marymount University. She’s a first-generation American and a first-generation college student. Her first post as a Foreign Service Information Management Specialist is the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China.
What inspired you to pursue FAIT Fellowship program?
I saw the FAIT fellowship as an intersectional opportunity to exercise my passion for diplomacy and interest in technology when I applied.
What advice do you have for individuals applying for the FAIT Fellowship?
Remain true to yourself in the application process; that is the strongest way for your innermost qualities to have the ability to shine.
What was the most difficult part of the application or selection process, and how did you overcome it?
The most difficult part of the application process was the application itself, and the nerves I felt before the interview. I wanted to make sure that I was truly putting my best foot forward and that led me to a lot of second-guessing, but at the end of the day I had to gain confidence in myself.
What was a typical week like in your first summer domestic internship in Washington, D.C.? What did you value the most?
My first summer internship was virtual. I was working with the Cloud Program Management Office in D.C., and my boss was very sympathetic to the remote transition of my internship. He spent a lot of time checking in on me to ensure that I was keeping my spirits up and giving me projects that felt socially appropriate to the tumultuous landscape we were navigating in 2020.
Due to COVID-19, your second summer internship with an Embassy or Consulate abroad was a remote internship. Where was the internship and what types of projects did you work on?
My virtual internship abroad was with the U.S. Embassy of Panama, and I enjoyed my time working with the IRM team there. One of my major responsibilities was writing technical articles for an internal newsletter of theirs, and that really offered me a chance to let my creativity shine.
How has the FAIT Fellowship affected your life personally and professionally?
The FAIT Fellowship helped me get through school financially at a time when I needed it the most. It also provided me the comfort of knowing that I would have a career when I graduated, unlike many of my peers during the pandemic. I’ve also gained some remarkable mentors that I plan to keep around for many more years to come.
After earning your degree and completing the FAIT Fellowship program, you started your training at the Foreign Service Institute. Can you share a little about the FSI training?
The training has been mostly virtual, and that’s been a harder learning experience for me. I much rather have in-person interactions and learning. We are now in the stage of moving towards a hybrid model and I look forward to the continuous learning process. My in-person training has consisted of courses related to radio programming, cabling for telephones, and keeping our communications infrastructure secure. It’s been a lot to take in but it has given me a more well-rounded perspective of what the challenges and responsibilities are that I will face as a supervisor.
Where is your first post of assignment as Foreign Service IMS and how do feel about it?
My first assignment as an IMS is Guangzhou, China. It wasn’t at the top of my list, but it also wasn’t the last of my picks; and for that I am grateful. Though relations between the U.S. and China are tough right now, I am trying to maintain a positive mindset about making the big move. I am interested to learn how I can leverage my duties as an IMS to support our diplomatic mission in China.