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Exploring Cyber Diplomacy: Vlad’s Internship Experience at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Vlad shares about his internship with the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

July 14, 2023

Can you describe the career opportunity are you pursuing this summer?

Upon finishing my second year in Hyderabad, I returned to Estonia. I interned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the digital and cyber diplomacy department. I was a cyber diplomacy intern. Now that we can see cyberattacks used in combination with traditional warfare, I saw the need to intern at the cyber diplomacy department more than ever. I am grateful for my experience at the ministry, where I saw how one of the leading countries in cybersecurity - Estonia - manages its foreign policy and collaboration in cyberspace. It was also my first experience in the public sector, where I got invaluable connections for life and a personal experience working for one of the most digitally advanced states in the global community. Thank you to my team and supervisor for an unforgettable internship experience!

What led you to this opportunity? What help did you receive from your peers, alumni, or CTD in your journey to this position?

I have been curious about foreign affairs ever since high school, but I gained more knowledge regarding political science theories in my Political Science and Social Change course this past academic year at Minerva. At the end of the course, while discussing careers in political science, I said to myself, "I would love to try out diplomacy one day." Right after that course, I started my application for this internship. A while later, during one of my Comparative Constitutional Law classes, my professor shared a fascinating article on diplomacy in my part of the world that provided me with insights I used in my application. I was greatly inspired and motivated by my political science professors, Professor Mark Kukis and Professor Nicholas Kenney, and my gratitude goes to them.

What skills have you acquired during your studies at Minerva that you believe made you stand out?

First, Minerva lent me a tremendous interdisciplinary mix of skills and habits that helped me navigate a new complex diplomatic system. During my internship, I was challenged with various tasks requiring me to critically analyze information, be creative, communicate, and collaborate effectively. There is no one particular class or skill that was the most helpful. Instead, what helped me was using the combinations of Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts that we learned at Minerva and the skills I gained across disciplines in my psychology, economics, and political science classes.

Additionally, my diverse resume and global background certainly made me stand out. It is rare for an average Estonian bachelor's student to have had work and research experiences in South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and India. Foreign missions are what (almost) every other official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs aspires to do, but I already had a similar background without being a diplomat.

What advice would you give to peers or younger students regarding finding and leveraging professional opportunities in your industry?

I would tell them that studying abroad for such a long time like we do at Minerva. While studying abroad for so long, staying in touch with people in the countries or regions where they want to build their careers is essential. The skills and experiences we are getting at Minerva are exceptional and most likely in demand in all kinds of institutions in their home countries. They should make sure to keep their network updated on their academic and professional progress through a social media post, a call, or a message. Consistent, broad networking is a crucial habit an aspiring diplomat should work on.

If you were inspired by Vlad's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will effectively equip you for a successful career, consider applying to Minerva.

Quick Facts

Name
Vlad Virtonen
Country
Estonia
Class
2025
Major

Cognitive Science and Economics & Political Science

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Cells and Organisms & Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Applied Problem Solving & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

Can you describe the career opportunity are you pursuing this summer?

Upon finishing my second year in Hyderabad, I returned to Estonia. I interned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the digital and cyber diplomacy department. I was a cyber diplomacy intern. Now that we can see cyberattacks used in combination with traditional warfare, I saw the need to intern at the cyber diplomacy department more than ever. I am grateful for my experience at the ministry, where I saw how one of the leading countries in cybersecurity - Estonia - manages its foreign policy and collaboration in cyberspace. It was also my first experience in the public sector, where I got invaluable connections for life and a personal experience working for one of the most digitally advanced states in the global community. Thank you to my team and supervisor for an unforgettable internship experience!

What led you to this opportunity? What help did you receive from your peers, alumni, or CTD in your journey to this position?

I have been curious about foreign affairs ever since high school, but I gained more knowledge regarding political science theories in my Political Science and Social Change course this past academic year at Minerva. At the end of the course, while discussing careers in political science, I said to myself, "I would love to try out diplomacy one day." Right after that course, I started my application for this internship. A while later, during one of my Comparative Constitutional Law classes, my professor shared a fascinating article on diplomacy in my part of the world that provided me with insights I used in my application. I was greatly inspired and motivated by my political science professors, Professor Mark Kukis and Professor Nicholas Kenney, and my gratitude goes to them.

What skills have you acquired during your studies at Minerva that you believe made you stand out?

First, Minerva lent me a tremendous interdisciplinary mix of skills and habits that helped me navigate a new complex diplomatic system. During my internship, I was challenged with various tasks requiring me to critically analyze information, be creative, communicate, and collaborate effectively. There is no one particular class or skill that was the most helpful. Instead, what helped me was using the combinations of Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts that we learned at Minerva and the skills I gained across disciplines in my psychology, economics, and political science classes.

Additionally, my diverse resume and global background certainly made me stand out. It is rare for an average Estonian bachelor's student to have had work and research experiences in South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and India. Foreign missions are what (almost) every other official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs aspires to do, but I already had a similar background without being a diplomat.

What advice would you give to peers or younger students regarding finding and leveraging professional opportunities in your industry?

I would tell them that studying abroad for such a long time like we do at Minerva. While studying abroad for so long, staying in touch with people in the countries or regions where they want to build their careers is essential. The skills and experiences we are getting at Minerva are exceptional and most likely in demand in all kinds of institutions in their home countries. They should make sure to keep their network updated on their academic and professional progress through a social media post, a call, or a message. Consistent, broad networking is a crucial habit an aspiring diplomat should work on.

If you were inspired by Vlad's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will effectively equip you for a successful career, consider applying to Minerva.