Global Scholar Kellor Yde served as an Eastern European and Ukraine Desk intern at the U.S. Department of State, during the spring 2017 semester. During his internship, Yde attended meetings, prepared briefs, collaborated on group projects, and worked closely with partner organizations. He assumed the full responsibilities of a Foreign Service Officer.
The unpaid internship was for class credit, GIST 495: Global Internship. Yde primarily met with Russians and Ukrainians during his internship. The two countries have a long and contentious relationship. The tension highlighted the importance of nuanced language skills to engage effectively with those he met while at the State Department.
“The thought and care I put into my language has evolved significantly as a result of my international experience,” says Yde. “I now speak more slowly and carefully during my interactions with cultures outside of my own. I have found that this skill has bled over to my normal interactions with other Kansans as well. I speak less freely and with greater care. I now take an approach that focuses on listening first.”
His internship taught him practical skills like data entry, mapping software, and improved memo/briefing drafting. He also learned less tangible but equally important skills, such as adapting and thriving in a fast-paced environment, and maintaining excellent team communication. He learned primarily how to behave diplomatically in tense or contentious situations and how to better connect with people whom one has little in common with.
Originally, Yde planned to work in Turkey for his global internship, but when plans changed, he was thankful for a Russian Foreign Policy course that he took the previous semester. Yde learned about and the shared histories and current conflicts between Russia and Ukraine along with the history and culture of Russia and the Russian diaspora. In addition to relevant coursework, Yde advises practicing the language skills you will need. He encourages students to be adventurous in their interactions to better learn and understand the culture of others, despite the increased likelihood of making a cultural blunder.
“My internship was a critical and perhaps most memorable part of my time at KU,” Yde says. “I encouraged my friends and classmates to intern (especially abroad), if they have the opportunity. It provides a valuable experience. Applying the concepts learned in the classroom in a real-work experience gives them more tangible meaning.”
Yde graduated this spring with a degree in Political Science/Global and International Studies with a minor in Economics. He is currently working for the Kansas Democratic Party.
**Please note the opinions above are those of Kellor Yde only.