This summer, I was granted an amazing opportunity: To live, work and study in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
First and foremost, I would recommend a program like this only to people who wish to gain experience with a government institution like the Department of Education, Justice, State, Transportation, etc.. They should want to gain a flurry of contacts and resources and valuable experience in political science, philosophy, and/or economics, and, perhaps most importantly, can handle working 13-hour days four days a week.
Sound attractive? If so, then I suggest you take a look at The Fund for American Studies (TFAS). Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything the program promotes, it gives students the opportunity to face the reality of the full-time work environment while providing housing and six hours of transferable credit from Georgetown University.
At the same time, however, it is a conservative, libertarian American Studies program that “promotes freedom and free-market capitalism.” TFAS has six institutes, including Political Journalism, Business & Governmental Affairs, Economic Systems and International Affairs.
At the Department of Education, I worked in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education as an assistant analyst where I aided in managing grant cases for state education agencies totaling over $1.4 billion. I was also accepted with six other interns to coordinate Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” program that promotes healthy eating and exercise while attempting to prevent summer reading loss.
Throughout my time at the Department, I worked to allocate more than $12.5 million to public schools and coordinated four “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” programs. We organized celebrity visits from people such as actor/author LeVar Burton, Miss America 2012, President Obama, the Washington Redskins and LaVar Arrington (who, coincidentally, was named after LeVar Burton). I even had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
As great as this opportunity is, keep in mind that it is by no means cheap. I was able to secure several scholarships through the program and other organizations on campus that paid for it and a little bit more. If you don’t, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with a great opportunity slipping right through your fingers.
All in all, I would definitely recommend working in the capital, whether it be through the Washington Institute, the Washington Intern Student Housing Program or the Fund for American Studies.
P.S.- Working for the federal government really isn’t as bad as the movies make it out to be.
Jonathan L. Davis is a senior political science and psychology double major from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.