Internship Spotlight: Erick Pelayo Aubert

Looking back to what I have been able to achieve in my last four years at McGill, I could not be happier about wrapping it all up with an internship at the United States Consulate General. After numerous Major and Minor program changes, one thing remained constant: my love for Diplomacy, International Affairs, and the Public Service.

This internship served as the perfect culminating activity for my degree. Having studied Political Science, International Development and Economics, interning as a Political, Economic and Commercial Analyst just made sense. I have always known I wanted to dedicate my life to Public Service. I was, however, still deciding what that meant. Through this internship, my goal was to experience work in the public service and diplomacy sectors to get a better idea of my future plans and, of course, learn from top professionals in the field… and I got exactly that.

Before this internship, I had a very simple idea of the things that would happen in a consulate. In these four months, I witnessed how the U.S. Consulate in Montreal works to build and maintain strong relationships with political, business, and civil sector leaders throughout Quebec. It assists U.S. companies in selling their products in Quebec through the Commercial Section and analyzes key political and economic developments in the area to inform U.S. policymakers in the Political and Economic Section. I was lucky enough to experience both of these sections.

As an intern for the Commercial Section, I was tasked with conducting market research, communicating with Quebec SMEs, attending conferences on behalf of the consulate, preparing reports, writing remarks for diplomatic events, drafting replies to trade inquiries, promoting and recruiting attendees for trade events, and making business appointments for U.S. companies seeking strategic alliances in Quebec. For the Political and Economic Section, I monitored and reported on media and social media stories of interest to the U.S.-Quebec relationship and researched economic market sectors and trends in Quebec. I also chose to monitor the aerospace sector in Quebec and had the opportunity of writing an official report explaining what the U.S. interests and impacts in the sector are.

The highlight of this experience was the opportunity I had to talk to a lot of very important contacts and get their insights on a variety of topics. For instance, I met with aerospace companies and was able to get questions answered that I would have otherwise not been able to get through simple research. I also saw first-hand how the diplomatic sector of one government runs and interacts with another country and how much work that entails.

However, no experience comes without its challenge. For me, that was trying to stay motivated and engaged given the remote and oftentimes isolated nature of this internship. I tend to get a good part of my energy just from collaborating and interacting with other people – given the current situation, I had to adapt. I started by making my workspace as agreeable as possible. I committed to working at different spots in my apartment throughout the course of every day. I even worked at McLennan Library when my schedule would allow it (and frankly, when I remembered to book a slot the day before). Although it was hard to implement these new habits in the span of a couple of months, they allowed me to as keep active and focused on my work as possible.

Even though I have chosen not to receive academic credit for this internship, I believe what I learned will transcend into my last year at McGill and my future professional life. It was very important for me to see what I am doing and learning at McGill has a relevance that goes beyond the academic world. Not only was I able to apply and further develop the hard and soft skills I acquired at McGill, but also this internship will shape the last few classes I will take. I am embarking on my final year more mindful of what I want and with a clearer intention of my future.

I am forever grateful to Mr. Garvin Brown and the Honorary Paul and Yvonne Casey Award for making this experience possible. Thanks to this award, I was able to cover part of my living expenses during my internship which allowed me to focus on learning the most I could from the organization. Without this support, the financial barrier would have prevented me from partaking in this unique opportunity. Also, thank you Arts Internship Office for supporting me through the whole process.

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