Brother and sister intern at U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China

Anderson siblings in ChinaWhile adjusting to life abroad can be challenging, sister and brother duo Laurel and Austin Anderson feel right at home in their internship in Guangzhou, China — their real home is not too far away. Austin and Laurel’s parents currently live in Shanghai, located on China’s eastern coast and the largest city in the world by population, and the two have spent plenty of time there themselves.
“Since I graduated from high school there and my parents still live there, Shanghai is practically my home,” says Laurel.
A rising junior at Centre College, Laurel and brother Austin, a rising senior, are spending their summer interning at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, in the Information Systems Center (ISC) department.
The two first became aware of the internship when the Center for Career and Professional Development brought in former Consulate General of the Shanghai Consulate Bea Camp to talk about possible careers in the State Department.
“When she mentioned the student internship opportunities in the summer, I was immediately interested,” says Laurel. From there, Austin and Laurel began building their resumes and applied for funding with the help of their faculty advisors and Assistant Director for Employer Relations and Internships Mindy Wilson.
Their main duty as ISC interns is to run systems administration during the day and generally “help the Consulate run as smoothly as possible,” as Laurel explains.
The internship fits perfectly within both siblings’ majors. Laurel is an international studies major with a minor in global commerce, while Austin is a computer science and international studies double major. “This is the perfect internship for me to be pursuing this summer,” says Austin.
Both students credit courses taken at Centre for sparking their interest in international affairs and preparing them for their internships. “I took a great class from Dr. Badie called ‘East Asian Politics,'” explains Austin. “I cannot overstate the advantage I have from studying the issues [that the class focused on].”
However, the two are also getting sneak peeks at other responsibilities in the Consulate. “I have a couple of hours a week where I get to go and try something else in the Consulate,” says Austin. “Sometimes I get to observe an interview with a prospective immigrant or work with Public Affairs to promote the U.S. while abroad.”
Aside from having the opportunity to dabble in other aspects of Consulate responsibilities, working at the Consulate in Guangzhou in particular provides another invaluable experience.
“What impresses me most is that this is the busiest non-immigrant visa section in the world, meaning that more tourists, students and relatives wanting to visit the U.S. are processed here than any other place in the world,” says Austin. It is also the second-busiest immigrant visa section in the world, with the U.S. embassy in Mexico City being the largest.
Laurel adds that this internship has been a meaningful step toward her career goals.
“I would love to go into the Foreign Service after I graduate,” she says. “So far, my experience here in Guangzhou has only reinforced my plans to join.”
by John Ross Wyatt ’15