Description of My Workplace during Internship
Overview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sultanate of Oman
I had a great opportunity to do my internship in MOFA of Oman in Muscat, Capital of Oman. I found it to be a very professional organization that is committed to pursuing Oman’s foreign policy. MOFA does its best to maintain good relations with Oman’s neighbors, establish political and economic relations with countries from other geographic regions besides Persian Gulf region, practice pragmatic approach to international relations and promote stability and security through cooperation and peace (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sultanate of Oman. Oman is a member of several international and Arab organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Islamic Conference, Arab Telecommunications Union, International Postal Union, Arab Postal Union, Arab League, Arab Cultural and Scientific Organization, and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Cooperation.
At one point, I read an article Oman’s Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century by Lefebvre. The author wrote that Muscat’s MOFA and its embassies and consulates are not staffed by trained professionals. My experience in MOFA suggests otherwise. Although Sultan Quaboos Bin Said Ai Said, as an absolute monarch, influences Oman’s foreign policy significantly, my country’s foreign policy has been consistent during the last decades, allowing MOFA to build an effective and professional inner structure with clearly defined areas of responsibility and professional institutional culture. During my time in the reception office and coordination and follow up office of the Protocol Department, as well as in a Consulate and International Organizations Department, I met many diplomatic workers whom I consider knowledgeable and professional. Also, Lefebvre claimed that decision-making process in international relations tends to be “highly idiosyncratic”. I have not noticed that since in my opinion, MOFA’s work was well structured and efficiently organized. Finally, I would like to say that guided by key principles of Oman’s foreign policy, MOFA is responsible for daily management of international relations and has a broad range of responsibilities to fulfill its functions.
Departments Where I Worked
I am glad that during my internship time, I was given an opportunity to work in a few different departments and be exposed to different types of work. For example, during the first week, I worked in a Protocol Department. During the second week, I was assigned a position of a trainee in a reception office of the Protocol Department. I spent the third week of my internship as a trainee in a Consulate Department. During the fourth, fifth, and sixth weeks, I worked as a trainee in the Coordination and Follow Up Office of the Protocol Department. Finally, I spent my seventh week in the International Organizations Department (all the described information is reflected in respective professional development logs).
My Functions During Internship
As a trainee, I was responsible mainly for assisting a more experienced colleague during various tasks. My functions depended on a department where I was assigned. For example, in a Protocol Department, I attended a number of events such as meetings with foreign diplomats and events where they were present. In a reception office of the Protocol Department, I was involved in arranging a schedule for Omani ambassadors’ interviews and assisted a competent employee as we accompanied Omani officials during meetings with foreign ambassadors. Also, I was involved in preparing visit programs for visits of foreign diplomats and officials to Oman to discuss bilateral relations and conduct mutual political consultations and participated in ceremonies of giving gifts to foreign partners and intercultural events where MOFA of Oman was involved. In a Consulate department, I was involved in work and communication regarding issues that Omani citizens faced when they traveled to other countries. Also, I was exposed to and involved in communication between MOFA and Omani embassies worldwide. Finally, in the International Organizations Department, I helped with preparations and research that precede decision making and assisted with documenting and preparing summaries of issues that Oman was going to vote on or declare its official position on. I must admit that in nearly every described assignment, I rarely worked independently but I acted as a trainee and assistant most of the time. Nevertheless, I was able to learn much by working on tasks, observing, and asking questions.
In this section, I would like to comment on filling in and submitting professional development logs and say that working on logs was very helpful for several reasons. First, the process of completing logs enabled me to analyze my professional development and notice areas where I could do better. The very process of reflecting on events of each week enhanced my understanding of diplomacy. Second, the fact that I was aware that my logs are going to be reviewed motivated me to approach each assignment as an important task and do my best to analyze my learning and draw lessons. I remember how prior to starting my internship, I reflected on my goals for internship and performed my personal SWOT analysis. I believe that working on logs played its role in helping to strengthen my weakness of a lack of practical experience. Third, reflecting on logs content helped me to use available opportunities to maximum to demonstrate that I am a capable trainee who can be trusted with important tasks. Finally, working on logs motivated me to refer to and apply my knowledge about communication gained at university to real world situation. I feel much more knowledgeable and capable at the moment than when I started my internship.
Comparison and Contrast of Old and New SWOT Analyses
In my first SWOT analysis, I listed the following: Strengths (good communication and team-working skills, self-discipline); Weaknesses (lack of work experience); Opportunities (meeting important people and attending important events); Threats (labor market seems saturated in the sphere of international relations).
In my second SWOT analysis, I would like to list the following: Strengths (strong communication and team-working skills, self-discipline, some work experience, flexibility, and adaptability); Weaknesses (being overly opinionated or self-confident, limited working experience); Opportunities (being in a better position to compete for a place of employment as a diplomatic worker because of my exposure to numerous work-related opportunities); Threats (no vacancies in the MOFA of Oman at the moment).
In my personal SWOT report prior to internship, I listed such my strengths as good communication skills, the ability to function well in a teamwork, and self-discipline. I believe that I practiced my strengths well since I did much communication with my more experienced colleagues and operated in teamwork most of the time (often it was a team of two that included a more experienced worker and me). I feel that I enhanced my communication and team-working skills in several important ways. First, I learned to be tactful and respectful of others’ time and schedule. Also, I learned that many situations require balanced approach that warrants careful consideration of options, step-by-step solution, and consulting with colleagues. Therefore, I would like to say the following regarding comparison of my old and new strengths. Although I would still put under Strengths in my SWOT report communication and team-working skills, as well as self-discipline, I want to say that internship time helped to polish my strengths and make me into wiser, more flexible person, willing to adapt to changing environment.
Prior to internship, I felt that my weakness was a lack of practical experience in diplomatic work. I realize that although relatively short internship time does not make one ready for independent, full-time diplomatic work, it was certainly highly valuable and helpful. The truth is that I still consider a lack of work experience my weakness. However, I was involved in arranging work schedules, assisting another MOFA employee as he accompanied the Omani diplomats when they had meetings with foreign ambassadors. Also, I was given an opportunity to accompany a Minister of Foreign Affairs of Oman during an official meeting. During my time in a Consulate Department, I was exposed to activities aimed to help and assist Omani citizens when they encountered difficulties abroad. Also, I was involved in coordinating scheduling and preparing visits to Oman of foreign officials and diplomatic workers. Finally, in the International Organizations Department, I was involved in assisting with documenting and preparing reports on situations that MOFA was interested in. As a result of all internship experiences, my awareness of what MOFA does increased greatly.
Therefore, although I still consider my lack of experience one of my weaknesses, I believe that I achieved a significant progress in this area. However, I must admit that internship helped to reveal one more personal weakness that I was not aware. My weakness is in being overly opinionated or self-confident and a tendency to make decisions independently and without consulting with others. Therefore, I realized that I need to pay attention to this issue and work on it by improving my team-working skills and remembering to coordinate my decisions and initiatives with colleagues.
Opportunities that my internship brought was meeting important people and attending important events. I believe that I used available opportunities to the full. For example, I attended a farewell luncheon for the Swiss Ambassador at the end of his diplomatic term in the Sultanate of Oman. On another occasion, I attended a celebration of the fifth anniversary of presenting the ship "Jewel of Muscat" to Singapore. Also, I was present during a part of a conversation between Deputy Minister of the MOFA of Lithuania and a Secretary General of the Omani MOFA. Therefore, it will be justified to say that I was able to use numerous opportunities that my internship presented. As far as comparison of former opportunities with current and future ones, I believe that I am in a better position to compete for a place of employment as a diplomatic worker because of my exposure to numerous work-related opportunities.
In my old SWOT report, I identified such threat to my future employment with MOFA of Oman as saturated labor market (in my opinion, unemployment is very low in Oman) and the fact that not everyone may be considered fit to work in a position of responsibility in the sphere of international relations. However, even after my internship, a difficulty with finding employment (threat) is still present. For example, the official web site of MOFA of Oman posted an announcement that there are no vacancies in the Ministry at the moment. Therefore, both in my old and new SWOT, a threat remained the same.
Conclusion: Value of Internship
I enjoyed my internship time since it was very helpful and valuable personal and professional experience. I found MOFA’s work to be organized professionally and efficiently. An internship helped to achieve my personal goals of using available opportunities to demonstrate that I am capable potential diplomatic worker, gain valuable work experience, apply my university knowledge and use my strengths such as self-discipline and strong communication and team-working skills. Finally, comparison of my old and new SWOT reports showed that:
- I further polished my strengths but need to work on being more flexible and adaptable;
- although my weakness of a lack of working experience was strengthened, I need to improve my team-working skills and remember to coordinate my decisions and initiatives with others;
- potentially, I have an opportunity to become a diplomatic worker in Oman, and
- it is challenging to find a place of employment in MOFA of Oman.
Although I realize that there is always room for growth and improvement, I believe that I reached my personal goals. I was fortunate to meet at MOFA people who were willing to share their experiences and explain numerous practical matters that one encounters in his daily work in MOFA. First, I was exposed to wealth of opportunities to demonstrate that I can work diligently and conscientiously, meet deadlines, take initiatives, and be trusted. Second, I believe that experience that I gained was truly valuable. Third, I was able to use my university knowledge in real world situations. Also, I leaned that having a balanced approach to any situation is as important as using one’s strengths. Finally, I feel much more knowledgeable and capable at the moment than when I started my internship.