Lisa Retterath enjoyed her previous academic exchange so much that she jumped at the opportunity to return to the United States for a professional internship.
“I had spent some time abroad in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States during my high school and college years and felt that on top of my study abroad experience, I really wanted to gain some international work experience,” Retterath said. “The J-1 internship program interested me because it gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture for up to 12 months, interact with Americans from different backgrounds and work in a professional environment different from the one I was used to in Germany.”
As an intern at the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange in Washington, D.C., Retterath worked closely with the full-time employees on projects that related directly to her area of interest.
“A U.S.-based internship in the field of international exchanges after my graduation from university was a great fit for me because of both my academic background and interest in the United States and my strong belief in the importance of international exchanges,” she said. “In addition, I felt that because I, personally, had been fortunate to be able to live and study abroad for about a year, this internship would be a great opportunity for me to give something back to the exchanges field.”
While she has had the opportunity to engage in a diverse range of assignments at the Alliance, Retterath said she most enjoys interacting with the staff on Capitol Hill.
“Over the past months, I have had the chance to attend hearings and arrange meetings with congressional staff for our members to discuss legislative priorities related to international education and exchanges,” she said. “As the Alliance continues its advocacy this year, I anticipate arranging additional congressional meetings, and having the chance to attend some of them as well.”
Here experiences have also strengthened her interest in international exchanges and education.
“I have learned to interact and work in a professional environment with people from different realms related to U.S. foreign policy and international exchanges and education and have gained a lot of valuable insights into the work of non-profit organizations all over the U.S., which are engaged with international education and exchanges,” she said.
“My internship experience with the Alliance has also taught me that I really enjoy working in the field of international exchanges and education, especially in connection with the multiple foreign affairs aspects, and that I would really like to pursue a career in this field,” she said.