Chelsea Minkler '07
Class of 1966 Dickey Intern

Employer: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Location: Paris, France
Term: 2006 Winter

During my junior winter I had the opportunity to work for the United States Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. The OECD consists of 30 of the most economically developed democracies, which coordinate policies through soft power and consensus. This internship was an incredible experience and I had an opportunity to view diplomacy in action. I worked with the Secretary of Delegation, David Mosby. My responsibilities included pre-briefing Ambassador Morella and Deputy Chief of Mission Reid for their OECD meetings, attending meetings of the OECD, and writing cables describing the events of the meeting to request input from the chair of the department of European Affairs in Washington, D.C.

One of my main assignments was to report on the governance meetings of the OECD. With an ever globalizing world and an expanding European Union, the OECD may in the near future begin examining the possibility of inviting new member countries. With a decision making process based on consensus and all meetings consisting of the 30 member states, the OECD realized that a new structure of governance needed to be decided. I attended both informal and formal meetings with Ambassador Morella and was responsible for then drafting the reporting cable for Washington. The following day, the office of European Affairs in Washington would send back a cable confirming a position, which I would then reformat for the following day’s meeting. A topic of major concern for the United States Mission was the ratios necessary to pass items under a new formula for qualified majority voting. It was fascinating to see which countries reacted in which way and for what reason. David Mosby and I attended a number of meetings with the chair of the governance committee, who also serves as the Belgian Ambassador, and it was interesting to experience the relationships between the large and small countries as well the European and non-European countries.

I also was responsible for organizing information for the Ambassador and writing cables reporting on the highest level meetings of the OECD. Every two weeks I would assemble the recommendations of the experts from the Departments of State, Commerce, and Energy to formulate to cable for clearance for Washington. After receiving clearance I organized a binder for the Ambassador to have with information for the meeting and, along with the experts who were available, went through the binder for the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission the day before the Council meeting. It was a truly eye opening experience to see the number of people who influenced what the Ambassador would say and the manner in which she said it. I respect and admire the Ambassador very much and she absolutely played a huge role in the way the United States Mission conducted diplomacy, but it was impressive to see the number of people and trans-Atlantic cables, which were involved in crafting a statement for her.

In addition for working within the OECD, I also worked in the planning of a Congressional Delegation, which visited NATO and the OECD on its European tour. I helped the Secretary of the Delegation organize a program highlighting some current work of the OECD so the congressmen could get a sense of the mission of the OECD. Not only was I surprised at the amount of planning not only for the program but of the actual logistics of a congressional visit, but I also found it fascinating to compare the perspectives of those working at the OECD and the congressmen. Ambassador Morella served as an important bridge, given that she served as an eight term congresswoman herself. Understandably, the congressmen were interested in issues concerning their constituencies directly, and the work of the OECD had to be presented as such by those who often view the work on a much more international level. For example, I often heard those in the delegation discuss how an action taken by the Ambassador would affect the United States in the international community. In comparison, one congressman was very concerned how one company in his district would be affected by health care recommendations from the OECD. The case had to be made on how the work of the OECD benefits the taxpayers who are funding U.S. Mission. Like meetings of the OECD, language was carefully crafted to even be presented to members of another branch of the same government.

Closely related to my work regarding the language presented to the congressmen, I spent a large amount of time working with our office of public affairs, scouring news sources which would affect the image of the U.S. Mission, or the OECD in the United States. For example, there was a quite unflattering article published in the Washington Times, which misrepresented the mission of the OECD and Ambassador Morella’s work. I was assigned to work with our finance expert to rework the language on an editorial written in response the article in question. I also searched to find an appropriate speaking venue for the Congresswoman to make a statement addressing the accusations that American taxpayers were paying dues to an organization which would force them to pay more taxes. With the newspaper in question commonly read by the same congressmen who were in the visiting delegation, it was important to move quickly in order to address the problem. I was extremely interested in the amount of energy and resources which were spent monitoring the media and how powerful an ally or an enemy the press could potentially be.

My internship also offered an interesting perspective into being a representative from the American delegation to an international organization. As the largest contributor, the United States earned its share of both respect and resentment from some of the other countries. I interacted socially with some of the interns and representatives of other countries and there were occasionally some underlying implications about the United States holding greater weight in an organization meant to be based around the idea of consensus. The attitude of many of my American colleagues was one of self-righteousness and a belief that those countries whose OECD costs were partially covered by the United States should not be so resistant to American proposals. Often these underlying sentiments from both sides would seep into OECD meetings through subtle phrasing and it was interesting to witness such a phenomenon.

My internship at the OECD was a fascinating window into American diplomacy. I owe so much to the people who I worked with who really did everything in their power to make my experience a meaningful one. With the U.S. Mission to the OECD being such a smaller environment than the embassy, I really felt like I was part of a community. David Mosby did so much to give me access to all facets of the OECD. I had lunch meetings with him once or twice a week and many other officers made a real effort to include me in their work. I have never been in such a supportive and enriching work environment. I was treated as a colleague and I was always given meaningful assignments, where I felt I could really make a difference. With Mr. Mosby taking paternity leave for my last two weeks, I was given even greater responsibilities and was even sent to speak on behalf of the United States in several OECD committee meetings. Along with gaining an incredible educational and professional experience, I firmly believe I found a life-long mentor and friend in David Mosby. It was an unforgettable experience to work at the U.S. Mission at the OECD and I am glad for the skills I acquired and the people who I met while working there. I would encourage any student interested in working in diplomacy to pursue an internship with the U.S. Mission to the OECD.

Thank you to the generous grant from the Dickey Center, which made this internship possible.

Chelsea Minkler '07 is a double major in Government and Geography from just outside of Seattle. After doing a Language Study Abroad her sophomore year in Lyon, France, she returned back to Europe for the following year, spending a term at the London School of Economics with the Dartmouth Government Department, a term at Prague's Charles University with the Geography Department and an off-term in Paris working for the State Department at the US Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. She is looking forward to spending her senior year back at Dartmouth where she will be the intern for the 1972 Society and take a leadership role in the DREAM mentoring program. After graduation in June, Chelsea plans on working either in the Boston or Seattle area, and eventually attending business school.