| by Stephen Diehl

News Stories

Photo of Middlebury Institute student Katarina Zomer in front of the wharf in downtown Monterey, CA.
Policy student Katie Zomer ’23 is working on a speechwriting internship with USAID, one of several professional development experiences she has had while at the Middlebury Institute.

As an undergraduate, Katie Zomer MPA/MAIPD ’23 headed to Capitol Hill when she was hired as a legislative intern for Senator Gary Peters from her home state of Michigan.

The experience made her realize how much she enjoyed applying what she was learning to real-world situations. When she arrived at the Institute, she wasted no time adding to her growing résumé, landing a higher education internship at the French embassy in New York, then a social policy internship with UNICEF. The following summer, she conducted a learning and leadership development internship with Mercy Corps as part of the Institute’s International Professional Service Semester program.

“I started off grad school with a mindset of ‘Okay, let’s get as many experiences in as I can while I’m doing school.’ And you know, I actually started a career!”
— Katie Zomer MPA/MAIPD ’23

Last September, Zomer began an internship with the Department of State’s Virtual Student Federal Service program, working with the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. A month later, she took on a USAID Pathways Student Trainee Internship, working with the speechwriting team at the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs.

Zomer recalls the feeling of seeing her words and ideas spoken by the bureau’s leadership before an international audience. “I was super nervous, but also kind of excited because that was a milestone. You know, as an intern, you don’t start off on your first day writing a speech for someone.”

“I really loved that the Middlebury Institute focuses on languages and intercultural competency.”

Certified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Katie Zomer was drawn to the Institute’s international community.

“Oh, it was nerve-racking”: Speechwriting for an international audience

As an intern with USAID in their Pathways Student Trainee program, Katie Zomer is working with the speechwriting team at the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs.

Zomer, who is pursuing a joint master’s in public administration and international policy and development, says she loves the courses, faculty, and small international community at the Institute. Now approaching the end of her studies, she urges new students to avail themselves of the many opportunities they’ll find, whether in the classroom, socially, or developing their careers.

“Now that we’re in post-COVID times, the school is ramping up a lot of events for students, and a lot of networking opportunities,” says Zomer. “I think that’s a really great way to actually get into the vibe of being a Middlebury student—by going to those events, networking with people, networking with your fellow students and the faculty and staff here at Middlebury.”

Katie Zomer is a Kathryn Wasserman Davis Graduate Fellow in Conflict Transformation, through which Institute students are funded to develop and implement yearlong projects to advance creative solutions to conflict-based systems and situations.