LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas senior has been chosen to participate in the prestigious and selective U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program with the Department of State.
Rebecca Rumptz, majoring in global & international studies and in journalism, is one of just 24 students selected from a pool of about 600 applicants for the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program, an acceptance rate of around 3 percent.
“We are thrilled by Rebecca’s achievement in receiving this very selective internship,” said Michael Wuthrich, academic director of the global and international studies programs at KU. “The track record of KU students receiving these kinds of internships over the last few years are dispelling the myth that these opportunities for foreign and civil service are largely reserved for students in the D.C. Beltway.”
Those selected embark on two 10-week internships, spread over two summers: one in Washington, D.C., and the other in a U.S. Embassy abroad.
Rumptz completed the first 10-week internship last summer. The internship kicked off with an initial three-week training period offering an overview of the functioning of the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. With her keen interest in international diplomacy, Rumptz identified two key highlights from this training: meeting ambassadors; and seven days of diplomatic history, which involved studying case studies and assessing various scenarios.
For the remaining seven weeks of the internship, Rumptz was assigned to the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. Working with a sponsor, generally a junior member of staff, Rumptz conducted research, oversaw projects and wrote congressional notifications. Rumptz was given ownership over these tasks, which she felt provided valuable experience for interns seeking a career in government work.
According to Rumptz, the most valuable lesson she learned was the importance of accommodating multiple perspectives in any government agency.
“During roundtable discussions everyone approached an issue from a different angle,” Rumptz said, “meaning that we considered solutions that tackled a problem in broader terms than if it was just one person, or a team that all thought in the same way.”
Rumptz also noted the importance of meeting the other interns, all drawn from different backgrounds.
“Because this is a paid internship, there were no financial barriers to participation, and this resulted in a diverse group of students,” Rumptz said.
During the summer of 2017, Rumptz will complete her internship by spending 10 weeks in a U.S. embassy abroad. Reflecting an ongoing interest in Russia and Eastern Europe, her first choices for this assignment are, in this order: Poland, Belgium, Georgia, Estonia and Switzerland. Rumptz has just been informed that she will be spending next summer at the U.S. embassy in Warsaw, Poland, her first choice.
Rumptz describes herself as a nontraditional student. Originally from a small town in Michigan, she joined the Army straight out of high school and spent the next seven years as a soldier developing skills in intelligence analysis. Rumptz deployed three times during this period and was stationed for a significant period of time in Germany. She then spent two years working as an intelligence analyst in Washington, D.C., before deciding to come to KU for its journalism program. Her passion for politics and international studies also led her to a global & international studies major.
When she graduates from KU, Rumptz is considering embarking on a master’s degree in international studies before pursuing a career working for the government, perhaps in a communications or public affairs role. Her love of travel and learning about new cultures might also take her abroad in the long run, and she has an ideal opportunity to experience what that would be like during her internship in a U.S. embassy this summer.
The Center for Global & International Studies is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which is KU’s broadest and most diverse academic unit.
Photos: At top, interns from the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program meet Secretary of State John Kerry during summer 2016. At right, Rebecca Rumptz. Photos courtesy of Rebecca Rumptz.