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Keeping up with Altmans: Elsa Rothenberg at the U.S. State Department

August 30, 2019 7:30 PM

Elsa at the State Department

Elsa at the Harry S. Truman building, the location of the Main State Department office

Elsa Rothenberg of the '21 cohort landed an internship with the U.S. State Department this summer. She sent us this synopsis of her amazing experience:

"I spent this summer living and interning in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of State. I worked in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, in the Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy. On my first day, I was assigned to work on my office’s strategic planning and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) teams. 

"On the strategic planning team, I worked directly with our bureau’s planner on issues ranging from budget writing and justification to performance monitoring to Congressional affairs. I spent the majority of my time leading the review of the bureau’s strategic plan, and I personally met with senior bureau officials to discuss their progress to goals, objectives, indicators and milestones. I developed a framework for collecting and reporting data. As a part of this project, I prepared briefing materials and deliverables for a budget strategy meeting of top Department of State officials. I actually was in a five-person meeting with the Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment on his first day in the office and got to brief him on what he would be presenting in the senior budget meeting!

"The OECD is an international member state organization which generates economic research, analysis, and policy. My office housed the OECD desk, which determines the U.S. stance at the OECD. I was able to support the team’s efforts at internal and multilateral negotiations during an important time in the U.S.’s OECD membership. 

Elsa with leaders of the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and other interns

Interns from the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs with Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh and Principal Deputy Assistant Peter Haas

"I truly feel that I was able to contribute to my bureau’s mission of “empowering growth, securing our future.” I helped prepare our bureau officials to fight for funding of important development projects on initiatives like digital connectivity and fiscal transparency. Economic growth improves the quality of life for people and nations and creates diverse outcomes of peace, health, education, environmental security – the list goes on. The State Department attempts to drive growth not just in the U.S. but in the developing world, and I think that is a crucial missive. 

"My role in my office gave me a great perspective on all the questions I had at the State Department. I was treated like a full-fledged employee during my entire tenure at State and was given a full workload of substantive, impactful assignments. Working in a functional bureau (as opposed to a bureau that focuses on one geographic region), and especially working on an oversight project gave me unparalleled insight into the broad range of work the Department does and the challenges that federal foreign policy employees face. The internship sparked my interest in resource management, budgets, and accountability, especially relating to improving public sector efficiency. I even changed my business major to management during the summer after enjoying this aspect of my internship so much!

"I could not have pursued a summer at State without the Altman Program’s support every step of the way. Profé Love pushed me to apply for an internship at the State Department, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Once I (somehow) got my dream position, Altman guided me toward all kinds of preparatory resources and gave me an unbelievably generous stipend to cover my living expenses. I am so grateful to my supervisors at my internship and to the Altman Program for supporting the summer internship of a lifetime!"

Elsa is currently spending her fall semester studying in Granada, Spain, before studying in Mexico City in the spring. We can't wait to hear how her internship prepared her for her experiences abroad!