Q&A: Julia Herrle '19, SINSI Intern, Office of Global Food Security

April 10, 2019

Julia shares her experience as a Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative (SINSI) intern last summer at the Office of Global Food Security, and what helped her prepare for the position.

Why did you choose this internship?

I chose this position with Department of State's Office of Global Food Security because I am passionate about food security, agriculture, and nutrition, and this office gave me a broad view of U.S. programming around these issues. It was exciting to be a part of interagency programs where I saw how individuals from a wide variety of agencies coordinate their efforts to improve food security in each target country. I was able to learn how a program goes from the research stage all the way to implementation on the ground.

I chose SINSI because of the incredible opportunities for mentorship and support that it gives. The directors, older SINSIs, leadership guests, and your own cohort are so willing to provide guidance and encouragement as you navigate finding a position and planning for the future.

What were some of your responsibilities?

During my time in the office, I completed research and recommendations for food security programming in target countries, produced issue papers for ambassador briefings and represented the office in meetings with other bureaus and the interagency. I also updated my office on food security news by tracking State Department cables, reading think tank reports and attending think tank events.

What was your favorite moment?

I loved preparing issue papers for ambassador briefings, and my favorite experience was when I was able to brief an ambassador who was confirmed during my internship in person! It was interesting to hear what questions he had for our office, and it helped guide the issue papers I wrote for future ambassador briefings. I also loved getting an inside look at how offices across the department come together to help an ambassador prepare for post.

What from your Princeton experience (i.e. classes, activities, skills you developed, extracurriculars, etc.) did you find yourself drawing on most during your experience?

My Princeton School of Public and International Affairs junior Policy Task Force with Ambassador Crocker was immensely helpful in preparing me for my internship. It taught me how to efficiently communicate a large amount of research and recommendations in a policy memo and a short presentation. I even found myself looking back at my task force memo for guidance on writing memos at my internship!

What recommendations do you have for other students considering these types of  opportunities?

I highly recommend the SINSI internship program! It has been one of my favorite experiences at Princeton. The entire SINSI network is incredibly helpful and supportive, from the early stages of finding a position to advice on how to deal with tricky situations to conversations about career trajectories. We also have the opportunity to meet as a small group with leadership visitors that come to campus and hear about their life paths, which has been inspiring and eye-opening to me.  

My biggest piece of advice if you are considering applying to SINSI is to reach out to current SINSI interns! We are happy to meet for coffee or a meal to chat more about the program and how it might be a good fit for your interests.