Summer Internship Series: Commerce in Cleveland

A.J. Koch ’18

US Commercial Service, Cleveland, Ohio

My name is A.J. Koch and I am a junior PPE major from Shaker Heights, Ohio. This summer I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of interning at the US Commercial Service in downtown Cleveland, which is the export promotional arm of the US Department of Commerce.

A typical day in the office consisted of not only the usual intern tasks of making calls, filing and data entry in Salesforce, but real concrete projects that helped trade specialists and clients directly. The Commercial Service is a network of offices in all major cities domestically as well as in 70 different embassies abroad. The goal of the US Commercial Services is to assist small-mid level local American companies in any of their export pursuits. Each company we worked with had different needs meaning that every day was different. Some common projects that I worked on for companies were market research and international marketing plans for a variety of industries in most regions of the world. These projects were very satisfying because the trade specialists would directly present my research to the clients in their meetings. It was great to actually help these small businesses grow their sales, with some of them reaping the benefits by the end of the summer.

Amy Freedman, my supervisor was an excellent source of information, putting together a weekly intern meeting with me and the other intern to go over all the big areas of exporting, compliance, and marketing. Through these sessions, I was able to learn a lot of technical, in depth business skills that my economics and political science classes weren’t able to teach me. I really appreciated her willingness to answer questions. I was extremely grateful of the extra effort that she put in such as letting me tag along on client meetings, and inviting me to networking opportunities with the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.  Sue Whitney, the office director was also extremely helpful. After working on the administrative planning for the Discover Global Markets Conference all summer, she invited me to come help out at the DGM in September. The skills, information and connections that I made this summer were extremely invaluable, and I couldn’t have asked for a better internship experience.