Mexican consulate offers local students internships

By Maria Ines Zamudio

Serving more than 1,000 people a day, the Mexican consulate in Chicago has become the largest consulate in the United States, according to Felipe Cuellar, Mexican Consul.

“About 19 percent of Chicagoans are Mexicans,” Cuellar said.

The consulate is offering internship opportunities to college students, who are interested in working in their office, 204 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago.

The internship is open to foreign and local college students who are fluent in both English and Spanish. The Mexican consulate has several different departments, offering experience in various fields.

“The consular internship program is an opportunity for students to get experience in diplomatic and foreign affairs,” said Jacqueline Azpeitia Ruiz, assistant to the Deputy Consul General. “We offer the possibility for interns to work in a variety of consular departments, such as computer systems, documentation (issuing consular ids, passports, visas, etc.), press and protection. It is through the internship program that we hope to provide students with basic knowledge and experience that will aid them in continuing to pursue their academic and career goals.”

The General consulate has been open for more then 120 years, Cuellar said. The consulate has been located at several different locations around the city throughout its history. The current consulate is located on the south side of Chicago, in a building purchased by the Mexican government. The new location opened its doors on Feb. 17, 2004, Cuellar said.

Mary Tere Hernandez, graduate student from the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, is currently a fall intern at the consulate. As an intern, Hernandez “hopes to be able to understand the difficulties that Mexican immigrants face in the United States, and also to help them improve their situation.”

Hernandez is focusing on her field of study – law. She said she hopes to be able to help the consulate understand the Mexican legal system. She also wants to learn more about the United States’ legal system, and to understand the similarities between both legal systems.

“Being able to help Mexican nationals to participate in seminars in which we (the consulate) provide them with information about protection such as what to do if they are arrested, or information about domestic violence, etc,” was the most valuable experience during her fall internship, which started in August and will end in December, Hernandez said.

The program was instituted by the Mexican Education system more than 30 years ago and has been implemented in conjunction with the Mexican consulate. The internship is unpaid.

The majority of the interns are foreign students, said Azpeitia Ruiz. She said she graduated from Northwestern University and she realized how important internships are to any student; this is one of the main reasons she is working hard to make this internship available to local students.

Since the consular internship is an on-going program, students may apply any time during the year. Azpeitia Ruiz said the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs has offered this internship for some time now, but this year “the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago has put forth a greater effort to publicize the internship, and make it more available to both American and Mexican Universities.”