Jordyn Wedell’s Public Affairs Internship at U.S. Embassy to the Holy See

Jordyn Wedell spent her summer working in the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. She worked as a public affairs intern, which deepened her understanding of herself, foreign policy, and other cultures.

Hailing from Texas, Wedell came to Loyola Marymount University as an undeclared major. Drawn to LMU for its small class sizes and longstanding commitment to service, Wedell took a broad range of courses before discovering a passion for history.

“The ‘realistic’ part of me was hoping I’d decide to do something more ‘practical’ for my major, but I ended up declaring history the beginning of my sophomore year. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Don’t be afraid of the liberal arts, they don’t hinder you—they do the exact opposite.”

Wedell heard about and applied to the U.S Embassy to the Holy See internship while studying abroad in Florence, Italy during her junior year. Once she was offered the internship, Wedell applied for the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and Career and Professional Development ‘s(CPD) Summer Internship Grant, which provides a stipend to students with unpaid or underpaid internships.

Thanks to various LMU programs, Wedell has had many enriching experiences traveling abroad that she believes made her application stand out. She went to the Dominican Republic with LMU’s First-to-Go program to study race and identity; to Morocco for an Alternative Break trip with the Center for Service and Action to learn more about the global refugee crisis; to Vietnam with Campus Ministry to teach English; to Mexico with De Colores for a border awareness experience; and she studied in Florence fall of 2018.

“I honestly believe that without all of LMU’s opportunities to study abroad, I would not have gotten this internship. It was these experiences that led me to apply for the internship, and receive it. My previous international exposure helped me realize the importance of cultivating relationships, especially when it comes to foreign policy.”

Wedell’s summer in Rome began with overcoming the obstacles of navigating a new workspace (and public transit system). But, she was up for the challenge!

“It was a steep learning curve, but in a good way! This was my first time working in an office. Learning office norms, like the right way to communicate with my supervisors and learning how to network, has been integral to my learning experience here. I felt like I was thrown in the deep end without a life jacket, but the thing is, that’s how I learned!”

Normal tasks for Wedell included making a daily news brief for the Embassy, creating a social media plan, and helping escort visiting student groups. She also sat in on weekly meetings with Ambassador Gingrich and wrote briefings for her meetings with various people. Additionally, Wedell and the other interns attended events and receptions, and travelled to Vatican City on official business. She even helped plan the embassy’s Fourth of July party, which is their biggest event of the year.

“It seemed like all of Italy wanted to attend a ‘real American BBQ,'” she shares.

Her internship provided many opportunities to apply skills she has cultivated as a history major. Similar to finding sources for a paper, Wedell would curate articles for a “daily story” of the world’s news. She had to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information, which also happens to be the work of historians. LMU’s history major prepared her well for finding quality sources quickly, writing clearly and concisely, and communicating ideas effectively on paper.

Wendell says it is “hope” that drives the work of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. She reflects, “Spreading democracy takes a lot of patience, planning, and good diplomacy. This requires speaking your views respectfully, honestly, and doing your best to cooperate efficiently with foreign governments. At the Embassy to the Holy See, our main goals are protecting religious freedom, combatting human trafficking, and promoting the role of women religious. This is what we believe in, and if we don’t believe in our goals, how can we do our jobs well? We need hope because hope is what gives us the desire to do and to do well.”

Wedell learned a lot about her work ethic over the course of her 10-week internship. “I knew I could count on the team at the Embassy to help me if I needed it. But also, one big lesson I’ve learned is when not to ask for help. You can’t let your bosses hold your hand (and if they’re a good boss, they won’t). You have to take initiative and prove you can figure things out on your own. That’s what will make you stand out,” shares Wedell.

With the abundance of LMU resources, working abroad is more possible than one might think.

“Do it, do it, do it! Think about what you’re passionate about, and see where else in the world you can explore that passion! For me, I’m interested in foreign affairs, and what better place to be than an embassy abroad? But you can also do research, teach English, or work at a business abroad, so don’t limit yourself. Opportunity is out there, you just have to use your resources to find it,” encourages Wedell.

After graduation, Wedell plans to attend graduate school. She know she wants to continue living and working abroad.

“I know I like helping people, and it was great to be a part of the work embassies do to help Americans abroad. I may take the Foreign Service Exam, or go to law school and focus on international law. I’m not sure where I will end up, but I know I’m on the right path.”

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