British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Economics Unit 

Note: This internship will require the successful candidate to obtain security clearance, and candidates who are able to commit to ten weeks are preferred


A Director’s Fellowship with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the British equivalent of the State Department, offers wide ranging work experience suited to anyone looking for a future career in government, international affairs or economic policy.

The internship will be in the FCO’s Economics Unit, which acts as an internal think-tank, providing economic advice and analysis to Ministers and senior officials across British foreign policy interests. The potential range of topics is wide, but always policy relevant: from analysis of regional stock markets to the impact of capital controls. The type of work is also varied, including presentations on the depth and intensity of economic linkages with regions or countries to writing blogs on topics of interest, such as the role of social capital in facilitating economic activity.

The internship offers the chance to gain practical experience in a supportive and inclusive workplace in one of the best cities in the world.


The Economics Unit has the following main functions:
To strengthen the economic underpinnings of our international policy.  We do this by:
- Ensuring ministers get the advice they need on economic developments and what this means for policy;
- Supporting geographical directorates and posts as they develop country policy, particularly by identifying new opportunities and challenging thinking;
- Working closely with the Policy Unit to shape the NSC and NSC(O) agendas, making strong, credible connections between economic and political issues;
- Using analysis to help set the Whitehall agenda on international economic issues, bringing together economic and political considerations and drawing on the insight of the network; and
- Developing a network of contacts with external economic experts and systematically tapping this for policy-relevant insights.
To provide direction and leadership for the economics network overseas. The combination of a critical mass of economists at the centre working closely with economists at posts helps to diffuse economic thinking across the whole of the organisation.  The overseas network combines economics expertise with country expertise. At the centre, we add value by aggregating the insights of the network on key issues.  We work together as one team to have the maximum impact on policy.
The Director’s Fellow will have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the FCO's international policy. The Fellow will also be exposed to how the FCO interacts with Government, and UK priorities.

The Director’s Fellow will have the opportunity to work on projects focusing on:

  • policy analysis and evaluation,
  • research,
  • public affairs and communications,
  • intergovernmental relations,

2015 Director's Intern Reflection:

Working in the Economics Unit at the FCO was the best summer experience I’ve had! Two major things contributed to that: the office culture and the work I was doing.

My first day in the office, I was already getting started doing real work.  I was analyzing data from the IMF, World Bank, UN, and many other sources to be able to write real economic policy papers that were read by ministers in the British Foreign Office. One of the highlights for me was working on a paper about a major economic event that was occurring while I was in the office, and having that paper read by the Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of America’s Secretary of State. I did real work in the Economics Unit, which was one of my biggest goals of the summer. By the second week, I was being treated just like people who had worked there for a year.

The other big thing that made my summer so amazing was the office culture.  The entire office is really young and fun, and they make you feel right at home.  I would go on runs at lunch through the park with coworkers, and we would hang out after work as well.  The culture was relaxed, but everyone worked hard, and was really passionate about what they were doing.  People were always happy to have theoretical discussions about economics, or to talk through difficult concepts. Everyone always had time for me if I had a question, and my opinion was always valued. London is an amazing city as well, and getting to explore all the museums and sights of the city after work was incredible! Overall, this was an amazing internship and I’d highly recommend it.

Sean Wheelock '17

2014 Director's Intern Reflection:

I worked in the Europe team of the Economics Unit of the FCO and loved every minute of it.

I cannot speak highly enough of everyone I worked with. The entire Unit was incredibly friendly, fun to be around, and always willing to help. The office culture is a big part of what made the internship the best I have had. My line manager always took the time to teach me new things, whether it be a fun trick in Excel or how to use a database. As I have experienced in other places, being an intern can mean having to do mindless tasks and busywork. That was certainly not the case in the FCO. I never felt underutilized or felt like an assistant in this internship. Instead, I was made to feel like a new member of the team and treated as such by being given the opportunity to contribute just as everyone else does.  

The work of the Economics Unit is not necessarily typical in the FCO. The work does not analyze politics and it includes more data analysis. Most projects result in concise reports. Each project varies greatly and as a result I was always engaged in something new and interesting.

Beyond the amazing people and topics, working at the FCO is also exciting for its environment. Simply walking through the palace-like building is a treat! FCO interns are given many opportunities (which HR was kind enough to always invite me to despite the Director’s Internship position being an unusual arrangement) including contact with high officials in the Office. During my 8 weeks major issues were occurring in international relations, getting to experience these newsworthy moments from the inside has been something I will not forget.

Tuba Sahiti '15

London, England
Economics/Business, International, Think Tank/Strategy