During her internship this summer in Paris with the U.S. Commercial Service, Erika Ireland ’19 is helping facilitate business opportunities for American companies in Europe’s energy and telecommunications sectors.
The recipient of a 2018 Charles H. Salisbury Summer International Internship Stipend, Ireland has been exploring the regulatory aspects of this branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, as well as connecting with businesses to establish relationships across the Atlantic.
“Earlier this summer, I worked on the Country Commercial Guide for France,” says Ireland, explaining that American embassies “must publish a Country Commercial Guide containing information about the market and its sectors in their respective country. This document is very important for attracting and informing American businesses who would like to work with the U.S. Commercial Service.”
As she prepared to apply for the internship, Ireland connected with former Salisbury Stipend recipient Dave Fisher ’10, who completed the same internship with the U.S. Commercial Service in Paris in 2008 and helped Ireland navigate the application process and plan for the responsibilities of the position. Fisher currently serves as strategy manager at Accenture Strategy in Boston, Mass.
A double major in French and sociology, Ireland’s responsibilities in Paris include editing and revising the Country Commercial Guide for France before its publication on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s website.
More recently, she has been reaching out to French distributors to gauge their interest in working with specific American companies. In the challenges of that cold calling and connecting with French businesses, Ireland says she has learned “about what current needs are in France and how American products might be able to fit these niches.”
“I like the idea of working with both American and French businesses,” she says, particularly from the vantage of a bilingual office.
The internship has also “taught me that I am interested in the business sector as a whole,” says Ireland. In her conversations with Foreign Service officers, Ireland has discovered that many recommend working in the private sector before pursuing diplomacy. While she has hopes of teaching English abroad and exploring the business sector in the near term, she sees the appeal of the Foreign Service in the future as well.
“The ability to live in different countries as a Foreign Service officer is very appealing. I enjoy immersing myself in different cultures,” she says. “I see myself thriving in an environment [like that]…I like the idea of being able to represent the United States of America in a foreign country.”
Created in 2007 by Honorary Trustee Charles H. Salisbury Jr. ’63, P’94, L.H.D.’08, the Salisbury Stipend is one of the most ambitious programs in the Colleges’ history. The program provides financial support for travel, lodging and expenses for students interested in pursuing an international internship experience in a location of the student’s choice. By supplementing classroom education with professional experience, students gain a practical understanding of the demands and rewards of future career opportunities as well as an opportunity to test their skills and realize their potential.