It was around the beginning of April that I received an email from the Canadian Ambassador to Burma, congratulating me on being selected for the Embassy’s Summer Political Internship position. My name is Alice Niu and I am currently in my final year of undergraduate studies at University of Toronto, double majoring in Contemporary Asian Studies and Ethics Society and Law. To this day, I still find it surreal that I was chosen for this highly competitive internship. No words can pinpoint exactly how I am feeling at this point in time because I am overcome with waves of excitement, gratefulness and nervousness as I wait for the start of the internship. All I can say for sure is how thankful I am to be given this opportunity and how much I am looking forward to putting in my best effort during my time in this internship.
I was first notified of this opportunity through an email sent by the Asian Institute to all students. The call for internship applications came at an opportune time, as I was yearning to return to Burma to learn more about the country and its people. To elaborate, not a week earlier, I had returned from a research trip in Burma through the International Course Module program with CAS400 students and Professor Barker. Upon reading more about the internship opportunity, I built up the courage to send the Embassy an email expressing my interest, along with my cover letter, CV, transcript and writing sample to apply for this position. Within less than a day, I received a reply asking me to fill out an application form. Two weeks later, I was interviewed by the Ambassador, and not long after that I received an email from him informing me of my acceptance. This entire process, if I recall correctly, miraculously happened within the course of a month.
As an intern in the political section, I will be expected to perform a variety of roles, including conducting research to draft reports on issues regarding Burma’s governance, human rights, health, regional security, etc. Additionally, my responsibilities require me to assist in the planning and delivery of incoming missions, delegations and high level visits to the Canadian Embassy. Through this internship, I hope to learn more about how Canada’s diplomacy is put into practice in a country that is so ethnically diverse.
Looking back, I realize that this opportunity would not have been given to me had I not believed in myself and applied. Therefore, I encourage all those having some relevant experience for an opportunity to be more confident in your own capabilities and apply – or you might just miss the opportunity of a lifetime!