Sara Feuerstein '07 Spent Summer Interning at French Embassy
She Wrote for Newsletter, Assisted Correspondent
By Lisbeth Redfield
September 4, 2006
Last winter, fresh from a semester in France, Sara Feuerstein '07 (Rochester, N.Y.) headed to Washington, D.C. for a second semester off campus. While there, she did some extensive Internet research, called the French Embassy and asked for an interview. Hired "on the spot," Feuerstein spent the summer as an intern in the Publications Office of the French Embassy.
Feuerstein was not only employed in a highly competitive internship, but also one of 13 Hamiltonians who received college funding to conduct her internship. While summer internships are an increasingly popular move for students, the realities pose certain problems. Many of the available positions are unpaid, requiring students to fund their own housing and living expenses as well as working for free, all in pursuit of the elusive resume-booster "work experience."
Thanks to generous grants from parents and alumni, Hamilton students can apply for funding to support them while they work in a field of interest with an organization that cannot pay them. Though Feuerstein worked in what is known as an "unpaid internship," she received money from Hamilton's Joseph F. Anderson Internship Fund, given in honor of a 1944 Hamilton graduate who served the college for 18 years as vice president for communications and development. The fund in his name provides individual stipends to support full-time internships for students wishing to expand their educational horizons in preparation for potential careers after graduation.
Feuerstein commented that it was "wonderful that Hamilton started this program" since internships are becoming more and more necessary for students entering the job market. The Fund, she said, allows Hamilton students to pursue "amazing internships" and provides much-appreciated assistance to "students who just need that boost." She added that these internship opportunities also allow Hamilton "to promote a positive image," explaining that her boss thought very highly of Hamilton.
The Press Office is the first point of contact for people who want information about France. Feuerstein was active there as an assistant to the correspondent, who answered e-mails, letters and phone calls made to the ambassador.
Feuerstein also acted as senior writer for the tri-weekly embassy publication "News from France," which has 11,000 subscribers and an intended audience that includes members of Congress and press representatives. Working with four other Publications interns, Feuerstein researched and wrote a number of articles for the newsletter. Although it is published in English, Feuerstein had to do research in two languages to select the topics and write the articles.
Feuerstein was also active as a diplomatic writer, she said, and explained that she had worked on a speech for the ambassador when he presented the French Légion d'Honneur to an American. She also drafted the embassy's official response to the movement of Israel into Lebanon earlier this summer.
Feuerstein came to the embassy direct from the U.S. State Department where she filled a similar position in the Europe and Eurasia division. A government major and French minor who hopes to join the Foreign Service, she was struck by the differences between the two offices and the different way each country handled public diplomacy. "It's neat exposure," she added, "that most people aren't privy to."
This year she will act as the assistant general manager of the radio station and a senior intern at the Admissions Office, where she will conduct interviews. Feuerstein plans to take the Foreign Service exam in April and, at some point, teach in France for a year through a program with the French government.
-- Lisbeth Redfield