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Lars Gerrits: 'This internship gave me confirmation of what I want to do next'

Lars Gerrits is studying Public Administration at Leiden University. After his minor European Union Studies, he decided to do an internship for the economic department of the Dutch embassy in Washington D.C. 'Doing an internship is good for your development.'

Lars Gerrits (on the left) with Nancy Pelosi (on the right)

What does an embassy actually do?

Lars: 'The embassy is the ears and eyes of the Netherlands abroad. So in this case, in the United States. The embassy stands up for Dutch interests. I do my internship in the economic department and we help Dutch companies do business in the United States. We also look after Dutch interests in the United States.'

As an intern, what areyour tasks?

'I mainly have to deal with two things: updating the economic statistics, so mapping by state what the economic links between the Netherlands and that particular state are. I then call people about how it is methodologically put together. The second thing I am involved in is keeping an eye on US trade policy. I analyse these and then write reports on them. I also have smaller tasks, such as supporting at events and showing people around. I knew well in advance which tasks I would be given, but some of those tasks also came about in consultation. Then I could indicate what I still wanted to learn, for example, or what they needed.'

How did you end up at this internship?

'I had known for some time that I wanted to go abroad. I then started a very targeted search on the central government site for internships abroad. When I saw the possibility of doing an internship here and the economic angle the internship has, I decided to apply.'

What was the application process like?

'Because of the popularity of the internship, there were several rounds. First, I had to upload my CV, cover letter and a one-A4 essay with my take on transatlantic trade relations in the 21st century. Then I had the second round, where I had a writing assignment to invite a fictional congressman to a hypothetical event. I also had to explain in a video the choices I made in the writing assignment. Based on that, five people were then chosen to come for an interview and they chose two of them.'

Did your internship give you a better idea of what you want after your bachelor?

'The internship has been a confirmation of what I find interesting, which is international affairs. I also find the United States very interesting and trade and economic affairs as well. I also found out that I find defence very interesting, so the international security side. So the internship has given me confirmation of what I already found interesting and what I want to do next. It also causes me to develop a deeper interest in international security.'

Would you also recommend internships to other students?

'Yes, definitely. I'm having a great time here. An incredible amount happens and even if you don't want to become a diplomat; you still gain a lot of practical experience and learn what working in a team is like. Wherever you end up at Foreign Affairs: it is very instructive. Living abroad is also very adventurous and good for your development.'

Text: Abdelkarim Megaiz

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