Juan Miguel Debesa

Juan Miguel Debesa

My name is Juan Miguel Debesa and I graduated Cum Laude in May of 2020 with a BA in History, Minor in International Relations, and certificates in European & Eurasian Studies as well as Pre-Modern Cultures. I have always been passionate and intrigued by European culture, politics and society. To this extent, when I began my studies at FIU I wanted to specialize academically in European history, and the European & Eurasian Studies Certificate allowed me to do just that. I was able to take courses that broadened my knowledge of this subject area including the importance of bilateral relations across borders.

In my final year at FIU I wanted to focus on gaining professional experience in order to become more competitive in the job market after graduation. Having worked full-time whilst also attending university throughout my time at FIU made it difficult to focus on professional development. However, after speaking with my advisor, Associate Director Christine I. Caly-Sanchez, Mrs. Caly offered me the opportunity to be one of her student assistants for the remainder of the semester. Looking back, this was one of my most enjoyable times at FIU. I was able to assist and participate in all of the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence events alongside other student assistants who have become lifelong friends. Most importantly, working alongside Mrs. Caly, I learned all aspects of event planning and management including outreach and communications, room reservations and set-up, catering, hospitality, networking, and even photography! We hosted diplomats, chambers of commerce, trade commissions and even a European delegation with representatives from most member states, all of whom promoted knowledge and cooperation between Europe and the United States in our community through conferences, lectures, and related activities. It was rewarding to see how everything I was learning through my European & Eurasian Studies Certificate directly correlated with the activities being held by the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence.

My time at MFJMCE allowed me to secure an internship position with HACU in Washington D.C. under their Hispanic National Internship Program. I worked as a program assistant within the Internship and Fellowship Division at the Library of Congress. The IFP division is in charge of managing a portfolio of over 80 programs throughout the Library of Congress. My duties consisted of liaising with more than 20 interns throughout the Library. I also coordinated and tracked communications and documentation for the IFP division signature programs. I assisted in the planning and organization of events hosted by the division on behalf of the Library of Congress. I drafted monthly newsletters for the interns and monthly highlights for my division internal staff. Finally, I implemented a revised Library of Congress and HNIP alum directory to be used for outreach, collaborative and special event activities which would serve to further expand the Library’s mission of providing broader access to minority students and young professionals. The emphasis on professional development and attention to detail throughout my internship allowed me to practice and develop my public speaking and networking skills. In addition, I gained experience using technical software such as Microsoft Excel, Projects, Publisher, and collaborative platforms such as Confluence. Undoubtedly my favorite tasks consisted of hosting the various events and professional development workshops the IFP division held throughout the Library. From informal coffee-chats to meeting Dr. Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress, participating in these events provided me with the opportunity to network, view different perspectives, and develop new skills.

The experience of working and living in the nation’s capital exposed me to a variety of opportunities which I took full advantage of. In one occasion, I spent an evening at the embassy of Slovenia where the ambassador hosted a cultural presentation. I also attended a talk by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and even had the chance to meet Jewer Ilham and hear her speak alongside members of the European Parliament and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the experiences of her father and the ongoing situation of the Uyghur minority in China. In addition, I benefited from the FIU in D.C team who regularly held professional and networking events. It was rewarding to visit the many public museums, art galleries, and memorials throughout the city which were filled with historical and cultural significance.

I advise future interns to take advantage of the opportunities FIU and the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence offers. Attend all events that interest you, network with other students and professionals, and work on your professional development as it will only serve set you apart from others. I am forever grateful to FIU & SIPA, the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence, and most importantly Christine I. Caly-Sanchez, for all the hard work and dedication she provides to all FIU students, and for opening the doors to my professional development.