Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My Finternship: Public Diplomacy in New York

image from

News, 8/30/2016 | Consulate General of Finland, New York, "My Finternship: Public Diplomacy in New York."

Six months at the Consulate General of Finland in New York taught me a lot about public diplomacy, transatlantic cooperation and Finland's relationship with the U.S.  At the same time I felt extremely lucky to get to explore one of the biggest and most multicultural metropolises in the world.
Mari Tuokko in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York
Mari Tuokko worked as a CIMO intern at the Consulate General of Finland in New York.
I was privileged to work as a CIMO [see - JB] intern at the Consulate General of Finland in New York in the Economic, Cultural Affairs and Communications team from January to July 2016. During the intensive six-month-period I learnt a great deal of New York City, the work of Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the representation of Finland abroad.
During the internship I was responsible for a wide range of communication tasks from strategic planning and social media management to media monitoring and managing stakeholder relations. My daily work included planning and creating content to the Consulate General's digital platforms, such as website, blog and newsletter. I produced content on current topics covering e.g. Finnish culture and the education system, Nordic cooperation, innovations, and Finnish SMEs planning to expand to the United States.
A part of Consulate General's work is to contribute to a positive and truthful image of Finland in the U.S., and the use of social media platforms in public diplomacy – also referred as digital diplomacy – is constantly growing. Therefore large part of my work comprised of managing our social networks, and tracking and analyzing social media metrics. Consulate General reaches a wide audience both in Finland and in the U.S. with more than 11,000 followers and a weekly reach of tens – even hundreds - of thousands of users. I found it rewarding to learn more about efficient social media strategies and I was happy to see the followers of our networks increasing with more than 30 % during my term.
Iconic Empire State Building
New York City never sleeps.
In addition to communications, I was also involved in assisting to organize and execute several events such as Tech Night organized together with Finnish Business Angels Network, a media briefing ahead of the global launch of Rovio's new game "Angry Birds Action!" and a health tech meeting with Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn. It was rewarding to grow to understand how Finnish organizations operate in the U.S. and to learn how bridges between Finnish and American individuals and organizations can be built.
Outside of the office hours, there was a lot of time to explore New York City: its diverse cuisines, world-famous museums and cultural events, distinctive neighborhoods, and cute hidden caf├ęs. Life in the city can be very hectic as the five boroughs of the city offer something to do for every spare hour. One of the greatest highlights of the spring, however, was to get to follow the U.S. presidential election closely as the New York primary elections took place in April – I will never forget listening to Bernie Sanders talking to 30,000 people at Washington Square Park or shaking hands with Hillary Clinton at the Sheraton hotel.
One of the most memorable moments of the spring was meeting Hillary Clinton during New York primary election.
One of the most memorable moments of the spring was meeting Hillary Clinton during New York primary election.
Besides growing professionally and personally during my tenure at the Consulate General, I also created a broad network of international young professionals as well as long lasting friendships. The personnel at the Consulate General were warm and welcoming, and made me feel like home from the very first day. I want to thank you all for offering me this wonderful and unforgettable experience. I know I’ll be happy to return to New York – a city I can call my other home from now on.
Text and photos: Mari Tuokko
Mari wrote about her Finternship experiences also in Finnish, you can read the text from the Foreign Ministry's blog:

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