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Jeney Zhang, graduate of Auburn University, spent the past spring semester working in London at the American Embassy, specifically in the American Citizen Services of the Office of Consular Affairs. She heard about the internship opportunity through Nick Conrad with Engineering International Programs.
Although Zhang didn't choose London when applying for an internship, she is glad that she was placed there. "It was easier being stationed in London than in embassies in other countries because London didn't have a language barrier," she says. "I've always liked the British culture and history and I love their sense of humor. So, I thought it'd be a fun opportunity to work there."
While at the Office of Consular Affairs, Zhang assisted Americans in England. Her duties included:
Zhang had the unique opportunity of working at the embassy when President Obama and Secretaries Clinton and Geithner came to London for the G-20 conference. She helped set up for events and met the President during a meet and greet with the embassy staff.
Zhang enjoyed her work in London because she was able to help people in need, and she felt that her job had an impact. The working environment of the embassy was another of Zhang's favorites from the experience. "The embassy was almost like an autonomous entity on foreign soil, so all the employees were very close-knit and friendly," she says. "The embassy resembles a city block of America in the middle of London. It was an interesting juxtaposition because inside the embassy I had a normal American job. However, once outside the confines of the embassy, the culture and environment were completely different in an enlightening way."
Although Zhang's job was not directly related to engineering, she acknowledges the impact that her Auburn engineering education made on her abilities to analyze situations. "I loved the opportunity to expand my horizons, take on new challenges and learn something new," says Zhang. "However, I'm sure my engineering background helped me think of solutions and approaches to non-technical problems in a more analytic fashion. I had a different point of view than my foreign services co-workers and I think I contributed in a different way."
While pursuing her undergraduate degree at Auburn University, Zhang continually researched and represented Auburn in several competitions. In 2007, Zhang placed second in the poster competition at the American Institute of Chemical Engineer's (AIChE) National Meeting. Then in 2008 she took the first prize in the student paper competition,first place overall at the Southern Regional Competition and then went on to represent the Southeast as an Excellence in Undergraduate Research finalist at the AIChE National Meeting, again claiming first place.
Zhang will continue her education in fall of this year as she begins her doctoral studies in chemical engineering at Tufts University.