Kristin Lundberg's current post as a foreign affairs officer at the State Department required 14 interviews over the course of two days for one of only a few hundred fellowship slots coveted by nearly 700 finalists. She had roughly a 5% chance of getting the job at State, but succeeded. She works in CO.NX (pronounced “connex”), an office within the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) at the U.S. State Department. IIP is the State Department’s public diplomacy (PD) communications bureau, leading it's support for U.S. Embassy PD efforts and engagement with overseas audiences. In a government built on acronyms, CO.NX doesn’t actually stand for anything. It’s a play on the verb “connect.” CO.NX makes State's panel discussions, expert web chats, student alumni discussions, and guest speaker events virtually accessible, free of charge to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.
After serving as a senior producer for several years, Lundberg is now the lead training coordinator and visits embassies worldwide training them to do what CO.NX does domestically. The custom-designed training is two-part: first, it provides the technical tools and knowledge to enable embassies and consulates to set up their own online broadcasts, and second, it enables understanding of how to effectively convey messages through the medium.
How did Tech and INTA help you get where you are?
I believe INTA gave me a competitive edge. Others vying for my job didn’t have the same blend of technology knowledge and international affairs knowledge.
What advice you would give current students at Tech as well as the Sam Nunn School specifically?
I would suggest that any INTA grad be very skilled in Word formatting, Excel spreadsheets, and the Adobe Creative Suite. Graphics work and print formatting skills can be hard to come by in the government. Also, it’s really important that INTA students cultivate good writing skills. There is a large amount of memo drafting that happens on a daily basis at the State Department and bad writers don’t get very far. You need be prepared to analyze information quickly and write up a concise report on a tight deadline.
What is something that you got from studying INTA at Tech?
I think I really gained a good deal of confidence at Tech. It’s a challenging school and being surrounded by so many incredibly talented and intelligent students not only pushed me to work harder, but also helped me remember that there is no point in comparing yourself to others. In D.C. I see so many people getting caught up in the race to prove that they are the best and it can be obnoxious. When you go to a school like Tech, you get over that rather quickly! I still remember the time when I was happy to get a 28 out of 100 on a quiz when I realized that the average was a 25. Tech taught me perspective.