My three-month internship at the Consulate General of Finland in New York came to an end at the beginning of December – now it’s time to reflect back on the past few months I got to spend in one of the world’s greatest cultural and economic hubs. During my time in the city I grew both professionally and personally, and returned home a few weeks ago feeling thankful and amazed about how much I had experienced.
I worked at the Consulate General of Finland in New York as a public diplomacy and communication intern in the Economic and Cultural Affairs and Communications team from September to December 2016. During my internship I was given a wide range of responsibilities, from various communications tasks to assisting with organizing events. On a daily basis I was responsible for managing all the Consulate General’s social media platforms – including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. This involved planning, content creation, following and reporting on relevant social media metrics, and at the end of my internship also updating the Consulate General’s social media strategy. I monitored relevant media and news content and curated engaging content for social media and other digital channels on topics ranging from Finnish business and innovations to arts, design, and culture.
In addition to creating content to social media, I wrote articles to the website and the newsletter “Finland in the U.S.”. Fall 2016 was also a busy time period at the Consulate General, with lots of events and visiting delegations from Finland. As an intern I had the chance to participate in organizing and executing various events during the fall – for example Slush Nordic Made showcase, Archtober Nordic event and several networking events held at the Consul General’s residence in New York.
During my internship at the Consulate General I learned a lot about U.S.–Finland relations, public diplomacy, as well as about communications and digital content production. I also got to see the importance of building and maintaining networks and how the Consulate General can help in connecting Finnish and local actors. Along with diverse and interesting work projects, having great colleagues made working in the Economic and Cultural Affairs & Communications team rewarding and fun. The Consulate General has a very positive work culture, which was one of the first things I noticed as a newcomer and appreciated the most while working there.
Life in New York was also about much more than just work. It’s a city with a lot of character, which makes it an inspiring place to live. Although the everyday life sometimes felt hectic, there was still plenty of free time left to explore the city – whether that meant doing all those touristy things, spending a lazy Sunday morning at my local coffee shop, or simply chilling at a park with a book. Living expenses in New York are insane, but fortunately it is also a city that offers surprisingly many things to do for free, or at least without emptying your entire bank account. For example many of the biggest museums have a donation based admission policy, there are lotteries to win cheap Broadway tickets, and art galleries host openings every month – the list is endless. The last couple of months of the presidential race and all that followed the election also made the past few months a particularly interesting time to be in New York.
My internship at the Consulate General and the time I spent in the city gave me more than I would have ever imagined. New friendships were created and valuable work experience gained. But that’s not all. New York has an atmosphere and energy that are unique and that were motivating for me. Even though three months is a short time, the city became my home and I now look forward to what the future holds.
Text and photos: Niina Lehtimäki