Internship Spotlight: Hanna Poeschl shares her experience as an intern for the Critical Language Scholarship Program

Internship Spotlight: Hanna Poeschl shares her experience as an intern for the Critical Language Scholarship Program

Hanna Poeschl is a senior double majoring in Foreign Languages with a concentration in Korean Studies and Global Affairs with a concentration in Asia at George Mason University. Hanna was a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship Program Intern throughout the spring and summer of 2019. The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program provides overseas foreign language instruction and cultural immersion experiences for American undergraduate and graduate students in fifteen critical need languages. CLS is part of a U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to our national security and prosperity. These critical languages are less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but are essential to America’s positive engagement with the world. 

Hanna’s background in study abroad spending three years at George Mason University’s Korea campus equips her with first-hand knowledge on the process of language acquisition and cultural immersion. Hanna gained experience supporting students as a team leader for a group of students studying abroad in Korea from the United States through the Foundation for Korean Language and Culture in USA and helped them thrive abroad. Additionally, her time working at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea provided her with invaluable experience working with people from diverse backgrounds.

What was a typical day as in intern?

A typical day began 7 am. I would prepare myself for the day, drive to the nearest metro station, and spend 40 minutes on the metro. Once in the office, my day would highly depend on the program’s season.

In the winter we conducted selection panels that worked towards narrowing down the application pool in to semi-finalists, alternates, and finalists. We also held an Institute Director Meeting that brought CLS foreign counterparts from all over the world to our office. My tasks would include event photography, assisting with logistics, and material preparation.

In the spring there was a lot of preparation put towards educating students through filming testimonial videos and curating site-specific handbooks. I had the opportunity to contribute to the “Korean Language Resource” since I have extensive background in the language and culture from my 3 years studying abroad at George Mason University Korea.

The beginning of summer is our busiest season as 550+ students located nationwide are flown in to D.C. for pre-departure orientations where distinguished guests from the U.S. Department of State served as keynote speakers. During this season I again took the event photographer role and frequently assisted with administrative tasks such as mail merging, finance reports, filing, and more.

Throughout the rest of summer, I designed a handful of social media campaigns for the CLS Instagram account and even helped design an honorary plaque that was presented to the President of Okayama University.

In general, my days would often include conversing in Korean, taking a break at the snack shake, and eating my lunch in the kitchen with conversations in multiple languages going on around me.

What skills and expertise have you developed as an intern?

Administrative skills as basic as troubleshooting a printer are skills that I am glad to have learned now rather than later.

What was your proudest accomplishment during your internship?

My proudest accomplishment throughout my internship would have to be seeing my name under “compiled and edited by” on the “Korean Language Resource”. As a Korean language learner myself, I was more than happy to help prospective students gain a basic understanding of the language. I compiled a list of key classroom-specific cultural do’s and don’ts for those who are not as familiar with the culture. All of which is important because showing any amount of interest and effort towards learning another country’s language and culture allows one to begin on a right step forward.

What do you now know about the industry or field in which you interned that you did not know before?

I don’t think many people realize just how much work is put in to executing such a prestigious government scholarship program annually. From the fancy events that are held to the small sticker on your folder, it’s all thought through and carried out by international education professionals.

How has this internship added to your understanding of Global Affairs?

This internship has added to my understanding of Global Affairs by giving me insight on why a total of 15 critical languages are deemed critical. Having linguistic abilities beyond your native language help prepare you for the 21st century’s globalized workforce. When abroad you’re able to serve as citizen ambassadors, represent the diversity of the United States abroad, and dispel stereotypes about Americans.

What advice do you have for other GLOA students seeking an internship?

My advice for other GLOA students seeking an internship is to work on developing a sense of urgency and to become someone who takes initiative. There is a surprisingly large amount of opportunities out there but without a sense of urgency one won’t have the motivation to take the time and find them. Taking the initiative to apply, apply, and apply without being afraid of rejection is key.

What else do you want to share about your internship experience?

I firmly believe that studying abroad is one of the earliest ways to foster mutual understanding between cultures and hopes that every student is provided the opportunity to do so. Working towards helping students study abroad has been a career goal of mine ever since I took my first Korean language course in high school. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my first career goal with CLS. I’m going to miss each and every one from the CLS team and am looking forward to my upcoming internship with the George Mason University Global Education Office this fall.