Leo Ayala, ITED ’17

Intern, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)

Summer 2017

This summer I had the remarkable opportunity to intern in The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) – Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) in Washington D.C. Although unpaid, I cannot think of a better summer internship to complement my master’s degree program, International Trade and Economic Diplomacy (ITED), at MIIS. This internship not only gave me the opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge, it also gave me plenty of opportunities to use the skills I developed in my master’s program.

Not many Americans are aware of the importance of USTR. USTR may be small (around 200 employees) but in Washington, D.C it is highly respected as the top trade agency. As the President’s advisory body on trade, it engages directly with foreign governments to create trade agreements, resolve disputes, and participate in global trade policy organizations. It also meets with governments, business groups, legislators and public interest groups to gather input on trade issues and discuss the President’s trade policy positions. My assigned internship office within USTR, ITEC, draws on expertise from across the federal government to enhance the United States’ ability to enforce U.S. trade rights under various international trade agreements. Through this

Executive Office of the President, Summer 2017 Interns

inter-agency structure, USTR coordinates trade policy, resolves disagreements, and frames issues for presidential decision.

As an intern, my day-to-day job at ITEC varied. Some days I would be tasked with conducting follow up research for current developments on trade barriers identified in the annual National Trade Estimate Report published by USTR. Other days, I would translate documents and newspaper articles for our trade analysts’ use. In fact, my foreign language skills were sought after in the office and I really enjoyed having the ability to make a significant contribution by conducting research in multiple foreign languages and managing the translation archives in my office this summer. I was also able to conduct my own research, which I compiled into a comprehensive report on digital trade barriers and illegal logging that examined the effect on trade flows and assessed whether our trading partners are complying with WTO dispute panel findings and free trade agreements.

Besides intern responsibilities, there were many perks that I was privileged to have as an intern within the Executive Office of the President. These included: access to the White House Athletic Center, access to the executive and presidential libraries, access to the executive office building (which many well-known people in the government frequent), networking opportunities, speaker series, and invites to special events such as the 4th of July celebration on the south lawn of the White House.

At the end of my internship I realized that, beyond the unique experiences, I gained a lot of confidence in myself, my work, and my career goals. Although I was the only non-law degree student intern in the office, I was able to make a great contribution to the mission at USTR and I am extremely proud to have had the honor of representing the MIIS community at the Executive Office of the President this summer.