In the summer of 2007, Natalia Franco Millán was one of 80 interns chosen for a professional internship at the Organization of American States (OAS). Today, she works in the OAS Human Resources Department and is the coordinator of this novel program that offers opportunities to students around the globe.
The Internship Program was created in 1977 as a way of opening the doors of the OAS to young men and women interested in the enriching experience of doing an academic practicum at the OAS. It was also created to promote an educational system for personal and professional growth and teamwork.
To date, more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world have completed internships at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC or in one of the 27 national offices in the hemisphere. Natalia Franco points out that the OAS is open to interns from many countries. "In fact, they come not only from OAS member states but also from India, Spain, Korea, and other countries. There are no limitations in this sense," she says.
Any university student or young professional of any nationality who meets the basic candidacy requirements can be part of this program, and while the internships have traditionally been offered in Washington, DC, a new version of the program that began in 2010 has allowed students to do their internships in the OAS national offices located in other countries. This is an alternative for those who are looking for a connection to the OAS in their home countries or are hoping to work in support of particular projects. Cristina Huidobro coordinates this part of the program and explains that it includes a virtual platform where the interns can do weekly activities online monitored by the Department of Human Resources in Washington DC. "The online tool is a forum for discussions and proposals and it offers a space for the interns to provide feedback," Huidobro says.
Working at the OAS
According to the interns themselves, the program has been a unique opportunity to work with a multicultural and international organization like the OAS and to develop new skills that are useful for their professional interests. Juliana Bedoya, a 2005 intern and current member of the Department of Human Development, Education, and Culture says, "the OAS Internship Program is an excellent vehicle for learning from a multicultural vision and experience and for grounding your university studies. It helps you meet very...