At the end of this past summer, Fordham student Zane Larwood, FCRH ’16, landed a great four-week State Department internship. The only caveat? The department’s location was in Washington D.C., which made for one heck of a commute.
Every Wednesday, Zane left his Rose Hill dorm at 3:45 a.m. to catch a 5:45 plane to D.C. After the hour-long flight, he worked two days at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and South Central Asian Affairs, or NEA-SCA. He stayed overnight in D.C. and then, after work on Thursday, caught a plane home, sometimes not arriving back at Fordham until 10 p.m.
Zane, an honors student and International Political Economy Major, with minors in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, is quick to admit that the amount of travel could be daunting. However, perhaps he was better prepared for it than most — his father is a pilot, and not only has Zane been flying regularly for most of his life, he can also fly for free.
His dad’s job, Zane said, was a major factor in his life growing up. He, his parents and his two younger sisters moved frequently when Zane was young, settling first in San Diego, California, then Chinle, Arizona, where they lived on a Navajo reservation. After that came Columbus, Ohio, for a short time, and then Honolulu. The longest stretch was spent in Honolulu — they stayed there for ten years while Zane’s father flew for Northwest Airlines. They moved once more before Zane started high school, this time to Minnesota, when Northwest Airlines merged with Delta Airlines and his base was relocated to Minneapolis.
Hawaii, Zane said, was his favorite place to live. It is more laid-back than anywhere else he’s been, and has a vastly different culture than anywhere else in the U.S. It was also there that he learned to surf (he calls himself “not great, but confident”) and developed his love for hiking and camping.
Through it all, Zane developed a perpetual fascination with politics. He can recall exactly when it started, too — in middle school, he wrote a detailed preview and analysis of the Bush versus Kerry election (and is quick to note that he predicted a Bush win). Over a decade later, that interest is what led him to make the (arguably insane) commute to D.C. every week.
“I want to work in foreign service…and this internship was a kind of perfect way to get some insight into what that actually entails,” Zane explained. There was a lot of normal “intern stuff,” like managing schedules, drafting cables, and getting everything approved by undersecretaries, he recounted. But there were also ample opportunities for bigger-picture learning.
Every Friday, for instance, Zane had the opportunity to attend a gathering of officials called the All Hands Meeting, a top-level briefing at which the department’s specialists gave a rundown of the week’s events in their particular units. Experiences like this helped him fine-tune his job aspirations. Zane had known he wanted a political position, but, he said, working at the state department made management-based positions seem more attractive.
“The state department, yes it’s very political, but it’s not like Congress,” he said. “There’s so much partisanship…but here, it’s more that you’re representing the U.S. as a whole from a foreign policy perspective. There could potentially be a new president every four years, but your allegiances and your job here don’t change.”
And a position like that could allow him to make good use of his interest in the politics of small, developing countries, Zane said. Down the road, he wants to use a political position, as well as his particular interest in struggling nations, to make a difference.
“At the end of the day,” he mused, “isn’t that every college student’s goal?”