Shea Patrick ’16 is exploring inter-governmental work this summer as an intern for the Public Affairs section of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Patrick’s internship is supported through the Career Center’s Summer Internship Fund.
Within the U.S. Embassy, the public affairs team is responsible for cultural programs as well as press initiatives. Since arriving this summer Patrick has been involved with projects for EducationUSA, MACEE (Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange), YSEALI (Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative), and Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships, each overseen by the embassy. Patrick also has been responsible for assisting the public affairs team in preparation for a YSEALI event held in Kuala Lumpur, which follows the 26th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit hosted by Malaysia earlier this year, and will culminate in high-profile visits from a number of U.S. dignitaries.
This is not the first time that Patrick has worked in government, nor is it her first educational experience abroad. “I have the opportunity to work in the PA section of the Embassy here largely because of my internship experience last year at the State Department in Washington, D.C.,” she explained. She said she became aware of the myriad opportunities for governmental work abroad during her time as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
Patrick discovered a love for travel early in her educational career, and has taken many opportunities to study and work abroad, saying that the experience of cultural exchange has been invaluable to her individual growth. “This work interests me because I have been personally transformed by my experiences overseas,” claimed Patrick, citing her chance to study in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, during high school through a government-funded program, as well as her experience studying abroad through Hamilton in Italy during fall of her junior year.
Patrick said she has learned a great deal from this opportunity, both through the professional experience offered by governmental work, and through the unique cultural education provided by international travel. “Apart from what I learn in the office, this internship has many implicit learning curves,” she said, mentioning the difficulty of working around a steep language barrier, as well as balancing the desire to take in an authentic cultural experience with the necessary safety precautions one must take when traveling abroad.
“Now at the cusp of my senior year at Hamilton,” said Patrick, “I’m looking forward to incorporating my experiences this summer into an interdisciplinary thesis, which will draw from the expertise of professors in a number of departments.” Beyond that, she concluded, “I’m keeping an open mind to many different career paths and opportunities in which I can utilize my passion for communication, my cross-cultural experiences, and the many skills I've developed during my Hamilton career.”