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Working or interning in Washington, DC, may seem like a stretch goal for many students. But according to Dr. Yuval Levin, Vice President and Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington is an exceptionally open place for people who are willing to work hard. Dr. Levin spoke recently to a group of University of Dallas students about securing work and internships in the nation’s capital.
“The world of congressional staffers is quite young,” Levin said. “The typical congressional staff will consist of 7 or 8 people in their twenties who are each assigned a specific set of issues. They’re very involved in the work of legislation.” According to Levin, working on a congressional staff is the best way to learn how Washington really works. “Congress is driven by process,” he said. “Working on a congressional staff teaches you about powerful personalities and about the scheduling and tempo of legislation.”
Working for a congressional committee or for a senior member of a committee is another way to get solid policy experience. “The substantive policy work is done in committee,” he said. Many staffers working on these committees are very young as well. Levin recalled his own experience as a young staffer: “I remember sitting on the budget committee and negotiating health care issues and thinking, ‘Do they realize I’m 21?’”
Levin said that although Executive Branch staffers are generally more experienced than Hill staffers, there are many lower-level departmental positions that offer a good start for young staffers. He emphasized that a recent graduate’s willingness to work is the most important factor in securing work in Washington. “Don’t limit yourself to one office or one area of government. If you’re willing to be paid pretty poorly, there’s work out there,” he said. Outside of working on the Hill or in the Executive Branch, Levin said that the organizations that support the policy apparatus–think tanks, party committees, and PACs–are also great places for recent college graduates to gain experience that could lead to other positions.
Levin recommends that interns or recent grads think first about working as a congressional staffer. First, it’s the easiest way to get in, and, second, working on the Hill provides the kind of experience that students can use as leverage to get other positions. “You can’t pretend to understand how government works if you haven’t seen it first hand,” Levin said.
The first step to getting a job on the Hill is to contact your local congressional representatives. “Call the offices of your two state senators and your local congressional representative,” Levin said, “and offer yourself up to opening letters, doing research, whatever they need.” This approach can work whether you’re looking for an internship or a job after graduation. “DC has a low barrier to entry,” he said, “if you’re willing to do the work.”
For more information about internships and employment in Washington, DC, or anywhere else, contact the Office of Personal Career Development for an appointment.
Summer is finally here!
OK, we know summer’s not all about snow cones, flip flops and lounging around the pool. And although you’re probably busy working, interning or taking classes, summer is the perfect time to start thinking about and planning for your future. Here are some tips for taking advantage of your time away from campus.
Three University of Dallas students are embarking on amazing internships this summer–two to Rome and one to Brussels. And they learned about these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities by reading emails from the Office of Personal Career Development.
Teresa Haney (Politics ‘19) has an accepted a political internship with the Holy See in Rome. “I’ll be doing lots of research into things like the ties between the Vatican and other embassies and countries,” she said.
Maureen O’Toole (Politics ’19) has accepted an internship in political diplomacy with the Holy See. “I’ll be in meetings with diplomats, taking notes, writing updates and briefs, and sending reports back to Washington” she said. “And I’ll also get to make travel arrangements for visitors and attend events.”
Will McEvoy (Economics ‘19) will be a public affairs intern for NATO in Brussels. “I’ll be working at the U.S. Embassy to advocate on behalf of NATO to both European and American citizens. I’ll stay ahead of press briefings and update social media to that end.”
O’Toole said that she believed the Rome experience was one thing that made all of their applications competitive. “We’ve all studied abroad and we won’t be as overwhelmed by the experience,” she said.
McEvoy agreed. “My interviewer told me I was one of the only candidates who had visited more than two countries. I’ve been to twelve, many of them NATO countries, so I mentioned that it in my personal statement.” The person who ultimately hired McEvoy also told him that the style of his writing in his personal statement stood out. “She said it was not written like a typical research paper.”
Haney said she thinks her internship at the Vatican will help her discern if politics is right for her. “Attending UD has instilled lofty ideals in me about social justice,” she said. “I’m looking forward to discerning if public policy work will help me achieve those ideals.”
O’Toole said the internship in Rome is her dream job. “I’m interested in political journalism so being in Rome will help me discern if this is my path.”
McEvoy said he has always been interested in NATO as a way to promote peace and achieve the lofty ideals that O’Toole speaks of, albeit from a different perspective. He also said that although not being paid for the internship presents a challenge, it makes the experience all the more worthwhile. “I believe that voluntarily serving your country shows your commitment to your ideals. You have to make sacrifices in order to achieve your goals.”
Julie Jernigan, Director of UD’s Office of Personal Career Development, wants to remind students that there are other amazing internships available: “UD students are uniquely competitive for high-level and international positions. So read the emails we send you!”
For more information of internships or to make an appointment with a career counselor, click here.
University of Dallas junior Nicole Adams hasn’t always wanted to be a physician. In fact, her childhood phobia of doctors was so severe that she had to be chased down the hall to get a routine vaccination. “I tried so many different things,” she said. “But I finally realized that being a doctor was the best way I could make an impact and try to keep other kids from having the fears I had.”
To that end, Adams applied and was accepted to the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at Duke University. The privately funded program has locations nationwide, allowing prospective students to apply to individual universities. Those universities are then free to choose program participants from their pool of applicants. “Duke’s program is among the top 5 in the U.S.,” Adams said. “And they have only a 10% acceptance rate, so I was very honored to be selected.”
According to Adams, the goal of SMDEP is to let undergraduates considering going on to medical school get a realistic view of what is in store for them. And to do that the SMDEP organizers kept Adams and the other participants busy–very busy. “I took Physics and Organic Chemistry in the mornings,” she said. “In the afternoons, we learned about different aspects of patient care. Actors would come in as patients so we could learn how doctors connect on a personal level with real people.” In the evenings Adams shadowed surgeons and medical students in the ER, the Neonatal ICU and other areas of the hospital. Even the interns lunch hours were filled hearing prominent physicians and guest lecturers from around the country.
To help students adjust to the sometimes overwhelming work load and high expectations of the program, Adams said that participants met in small groups with psychologists whose goal was to help them reach the best of their abilities. “It was a tough program, and you could see that some of the group was getting competitive toward the end,” she said. But as long as Adams keeps up her grades, her successful participation in the SMDEP program guarantees her an interview with Duke Medical School upon graduation from UD. And while at Duke, she was able to meet members of the admissions committee and hear tips on navigating the application process from current medical school students.
Adams said that her experience with the program validated her choice to become a doctor–specifically a surgeon. “I feel like the SMDEP program taught me the importance of fostering an emotional connection with patients. I learned that as a med student, you have to ask yourself, ‘What kind of doctor am I going to be?’ And I’ve decided that I’m going to be a surgeon who recognizes my own mortality. And because of that, I’m going to be the best surgeon I can be.”
For more information on internships or to make an appointment with in OPCD adviser, click here.
Emma Dempewolf got a rare, two-for-one experience during her internship at the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma, this summer. “I was originally hired as a lab intern, doing the grunt work and getting hands on experience working with plants,” she said. Dempewolf said she found this part of the work interesting and enjoyed the collaboration between herself and the other members of the lab team. “I thought lab work would be more solitary,” she said. “But we worked together and shared feedback.”
Her work took an unexpected turn when her supervisor, a post-doc with only 4 or 5 years of experience in English, needed assistance editing a research paper for publication: “I had never really considered editing as a job, but I really learned a lot doing it.” Dempewolf realized that she would have to not only explain things like word usage and structure, she would also have to persuade him to accept her suggestions: “I’m a Classics and Education major,” she said. “And I realized that I was really educating my supervisor about accepted English usage. And I also learned the most effective way to structure a scientific paper.” Dempewolf ended up editing previously shelved papers for her supervisor as well.
Dempewolf said that perhaps the most valuable part of her internship was learning that she enjoyed a type of work (editing) that she had never considered. “Everyone always says to do what you love, but how do you know what you love until you’ve tried different things?” she said. “An internship gives you practical, real-life experience and that allows you to learn what you do love.”
Dempewolf also said that the internship gave her concrete experience that she couldn’t have gotten in the classroom. “Learning information is different that having to act on it,” she said.
For more information about internships or to make an appointment with an OPCD adviser, click here.
The quickest, easiest and most efficient way to get solid leads for jobs, internships and community service is to use OPCD’s OPT IN reminder service. By signing up, you will receive these leads via email, text or both. These time-sensitive opportunities have been vetted by our staff and cover varying geographies–local, regional, national and even some international positions.
For alerts on all available undergraduate jobs and internships, click on this link:
You must sign up for each individual area of interest. You may choose to receive alerts by email, text, or both. Pay close attention to deadlines within each posting. You may Opt out when you no longer want to receive messages.
OPCD will not be sending mass emails for individual job postings–OPT IN is our primary way of sending out job postings and information about on-campus recruiting events.
To make appointment with a OPCD career adviser, click here.
Mary McKenzie, a 2014 graduate of the University of Dallas, says that getting involved with a variety of activities during her time at the UD helped her gain the experience that led to her permanent position as the Internship Program Coordinator at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. While at UD McKenzie worked as the Director in Charge of Student Programming. She says that potential employers looked favorably on her ability to hold leadership positions while maintaining a full academic load. “And I didn’t do just one internship,” McKenzie said. “I did several. I gained on-the-job, down to earth experience that helped me get a position right after graduation.” She says that these internships, along with her volunteer positions, gave her a wealth of experiences and situations upon which to draw when talking to an employer or in an interview situation.
For More information of the value of internships, visit the University of Dallas’ Office of Personal Career Development.