Written by Joe Starrs, Director – US Programs and the Institute on Political Journalism

prEveryone knows that Washington, DC is THE place to make a name for yourself in politics and government. DC also can’t be beat when it comes to breaking into media, law and lobbying. What people may not know is that DC is an amazing place to learn the craft of Public Relations and Strategic Communications.

While the “Big Three” (NYC, LA, & Chicago) have great PR opportunities, DC offers more diverse and interesting chances to learn the PR craft.  The reasons are obvious: almost every advocacy group, association, for-profit company, or nonprofit organization has a stake or interest in what happens in the most powerful city in the free world.

Jump in a cab and take a ride into the heart of downtown DC – drive less than a mile and you’ll pass places like:

  • National Broadcasting Association
  • Edelman Public Relations
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Ogilvy Public Relations
  • Chamber of Commerce

These are just a few examples of the PR powerhouses with teams of really bright people whose average week is filled with exciting and impactful work.

Are you passionate about a pressing issue? Do you want to make a difference in one of these areas?

  • The environment
  • World hunger
  • Gun rights or gun safety

Whatever the cause or the issue, chances are very good that there’s a place and a need for a PR/Strategic Communication specialist in your interest area.

Are you interested in world and international affairs? Have you always wanted to work for an NGO, a think tank or put that foreign language to use? You can do all this in DC while using the skills and knowledge you’ve learned in the PR field. Opportunities abound at places like:

  • The World Bank
  • The International Monetary Fund
  • The Red Cross
  • Foreign Embassies

Of course at the heart of DC is government, politics and the media. From Capitol Hill and the courts, to federal agencies and the military, along with news operations from around the world, these are the “engines” that drive DC. Every one of these entities has a place for the PR professional. PR students who are interested in  DC can always “test drive” the city by interning during the summer or semester. Students will be sure to find a thriving, vibrant city with opportunities unavailable anywhere else.

For information about the PR internship opportunities available through DCInternships, contact:
Joe Starrs
Director, U.S. Programs

Written by Kari Travis, Program Associate – Institute on Political Journalism

While IPJ students Jordan Dietterich and Yuanyuan (Tracy) Tian are from opposite sides of the world, both share a common experience this summer: it’s their first time in D.C.

Jordan, a student at SUNY Oswego in Upstate New York, was first terrified by the idea of living in a big city, but he went ahead and took the leap. “One of my idols, John Wayne, once said ‘courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyways’,” Jordan says. “Without courage, I would not be in DC having the summer of my life with this TFAS program.”

Jordan hopes to be a sports broadcaster and found professional growth and opportunity this summer at his internship with MRB Films. He also had the chance to attend small group briefings at major news outlets across the city. It was during one such briefing that Jordan met one of his life-long idols—sports broadcaster Tony Kornheiser—on the set of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.


“After posting my selfie with Tony Kornheiser, many of my friends either called, texted or messaged me, telling me to keep following my dreams, because everyone from my hometown is pulling for me,” Jordan says.

Like Jordan, Tracy was uncertain of what to expect when she left her home in China and traveled to U.S. for the first time. Tracy attends Xi’an International Studies University and is an alumna of TFAS’s Asia Institute on Political Economy (AIPE) program in Hong Kong. She says she was surprised and pleased by DC’s diverse culture and its commitment to activism.

“I have met so many wonderful people this summer in this awesome city, whether they are working on Capitol Hill, for the Washington Post or on K Street,” Tracy says of her experience. “They are open, intelligent and aware of the world that exists around them—and are continuously thinking of ways to give back to it.”

photo of Tracy Tian with prof  BenedettoDuring her time in IPJ Tracy interned with Radio America. Through her internship, she was able to expand her career horizons and add to her professional portfolio. She also participated in IPJ’s internship seminar course, where she was able to study under Professor Richard Benedetto, a former political columnist and White House Correspondent for USA Today.

With print, television and now radio media experience on her resume, Tracy says she has learned to keep an open mind when it comes to choosing a career path.

“The most exciting part of an adventure is the uncertainty ahead,” she says. “Participating in IPJ offered me a unique chance to meet so many great professionals and I truly appreciate that…I still have tons to learn and to explore.”

Written by Kristin Underwood, Program Advisor – Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary ServiceLLB

Laura Lee Burkett is a rising senior at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, majoring in English Literature and receiving minors in political science & classical studies. Born and raised in Mississippi, Laura Lee hasn’t always had the opportunity to be immersed in new, diverse experiences. Upon receiving information from TFAS, she knew DC was the place to spend her final summer before senior year. She was especially fascinated by the philanthropic nature of the Institute on Philanthropy of Voluntary Service because of her interest in the nonprofit sector.

Laura Lee spent her summer interning for Mentors, Inc., the only citywide, one-on-one, open enrollment mentoring program serving high school-aged youth. The mentors are role models who provide the guidance, support, knowledge and love the students need to become successful adults. Laura Lee’s internship focused on program development and she is currently completing a summer long project where she revamped and recreated the mentor orientation process. She is also helping plan a back to school event for all of the student/mentor pairs.

Her favorite part of her internship has been the hands on work she’s been asked to do.  “It’s really awesome to have my supervisors believe in me and utilize the work I’m doing,” Laura Lee said. “Additionally, every meeting my supervisor has had, whether it is consulting with individuals from the Department of Justice, recruiting mentors from DC law firms or visiting schools where our mentees attend, I’ve been invited to come along and offer input.”

After Laura Lee completes her senior year, she hopes to attend law school in the fall of 2015. She is especially interested in public service law and constitutional law, but knows that is certainly subject to change.

Upon reflecting on her internship, classes, fundraising and nonprofit work from this summer, Laura Lee knows TFAS was a rewarding and worthwhile experience. “I think the most rewarding part of my TFAS experience is seeing the common phrase manifest: what you get out of life is really only equivalent to what you put into it,” she said. “We’ve all worked so hard this summer, and at times it seems impossible, but the lifelong friends, lessons and connections we acquired makes it all worth it.”



Written by Pat DiFrancesco, Program Advisor – Institute on Economics and International Affairs

Mitchell, BrycePursuing a degree in International History with a focus in Africa and the Middle East, Bryce Mitchell aspires to represent the United States as a Defense Attaché in one of its numerous embassies across the globe.  As a current student at The United States Air Force Academy and the Institute on Economics and International Affairs, he is preparing himself to accomplish this and so much more.

At the academy, Bryce is a hurdler on the track team and serves as one of the cadets in charge of international programs. In this position, he acts as a liaison for fellow cadets and incoming students looking to study abroad and explore international issues. “My environment at the academy is really structured. I have a busy schedule, but I appreciate every moment.”

Being accustomed to his schedule at the academy, Bryce hasn’t had much trouble transitioning into the rigorous TFAS summer. “It’s one of the reasons I love this program,” Bryce said. “It helps you grow and allows you to take advantage of opportunities.”

This summer Bryce is interning at the Rumsfeld Foundation where he assists with all daily operations in the office. “One day I might be taking notes during one of our meetings with microfinance partners, the next day I could be accompanying Mr. Rumsfeld to one of his speaking events, the possibilities are endless.”

Bryce’s favorite moment during the summer thus far was an extensive conversation he had with Mr. Rumsfeld on a variety of topics. While sharing stories in Rumsfeld’s office, the two realized they even had some experiences in common. They both attended the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico as boy scouts. “He went in 1949, and I went in 2008,” Bryce said. “We even shared our experiences with all of the bears and rattlesnakes we encountered while there”.

After graduation, Bryce plans to continue studying international issues related to Africa and the Middle East at either The George Washington University or the University of Calgary. “After getting my masters, I intend to enter flight school and hopefully fly a fighter jet like the A-10 Warthog or the F-35 Lightning if they ever finish it,” he said. “After flying for a few years, I can then focus on my career at a United States embassy.”


Written by Sarah Meirose, Program Advisor – Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems

RebekkahRecent Portland State University graduate Rebekkah Brainerd’s first summer in DC has proven to be one full of new experiences and new friends. While living in the nation’s capital, she has found the city is full of amazing people, architecture and cultural diversity. She has also recognized a sense of community through her internship and home environments, an element that has positively impacted her summer. The former political science major is interning at Children’s Environmental Health Network.

Her TFAS internship has been a great experience thus far. “There’s this really relaxed, community atmosphere in the office. It feels like everyone is really working together, almost like a little family.” While the majority of her duties in the office are comprised of administrative work, “Our supervisors are always asking us what we want to work on, what experiences we want to gain, etc. They’re such kind hearted people, and it’s nice to see that side of DC when there is this big perception of power hungry individuals everywhere.”

Outside of work, Rebekkah enjoys interacting with other students she has met through TFAS. “My favorite thing overall is interacting with all of the amazing people here. Everyone is so incredible and smart, and I find myself almost daily engaging in these intense debates with people from all different perspectives.”

As an Oregon native, Rebekkah was surprised by various aspects of Washington in comparison to Portland. “DC is more driven and motivated; morning rush hour is really fascinating in how organized and synchronized it is!” Her favorite parts of the city include the artistic culture, cute shops and neat places to eat, specifically in Georgetown and Chinatown.

Already, Rebekkah realizes her professional growth as a result of her summer in DC through TFAS. “Each person has to make it their own… being in a place like this really fosters advancement as a person in figuring out one’s own self, perspective and mindset.”

DC on a Dime

Written by Pat DiFrancesco, Program Advisor – Institute on Economics and International Affairs

Here in Washington DC, it’s hard to believe the saying “the best things in life are free.” By the time you ride the metro into work, grab a coffee at Starbucks, buy lunch, ride the Metro home, and purchase groceries for dinner, you’ve spent a pretty penny.  To help keep the entertainment expenses down here are a few recommendations for free or cheap weekend activities

Smithsonian Museums:
The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, including the National Zoological Park. Explore the history of the United States at the National Museum of American History or view the original Constitution at the National Archives and Records Administration. All information about these experiences and more can be found here.

Theater and the Performing Arts:Kennedy-hi-res-708100
Located only a few blocks from Shenkman Hall, enjoy a free performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage every evening at 6 p.m. Acts include everything from performances by the National Symphony Orchestra to poetry slams.

Throughout the summer, you can head over to George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium to see various free shows. The GW Orchestra concerts are free and open to the public. You might even catch a live performance by the United States Air Force Band’s Jazz Ensemble.

Arts and Culture:
Tuesday through Friday, swing by the The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art,  in Dupont Circle.  Visitors can view pieces by Renoir and Rothko, Bonnard and O’Keeffe, van Gogh and Diebenkorn along with many other stunning impressionist and modern works. Access to the permanent collection is free of charge.

You can also follow Georgetown’s cobblestone streets to the Old Stone House, DC’s last pre-Revolutionary building standing on its original foundation.

Dining: As Close to “free” as you can get!
The handwritten sign above the register at Ben’s Chili Bowl claims Bill Cosby and Barack Obama are the only customers who can eat for free. However, you can grab a rather inexpensive meal at this city signature.

For something sweet, check out the DC cupcake scene. Visit Baked & Wired in Georgetown to get handcrafted espressos and delicious deserts made from family recipes.  Get a full list of choices by visiting their website.

It doesn’t take a full wallet to have fun in Washington. With an open mind and an appetite for adventure you never know where you might end up in the nation’s capital.

Written by Kristin Underwood, Program Advisor – Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

We are in our nation’s capital for our nation’s birthday! This year’s fireworks not only celebrate Independence Day, but they also commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.  You can’t go wrong with whatever you chose to do on the fourth, but be sure to celebrate the 239th party the right way by preparing with these tips and tricks:fourthcrowd

Activities To Do on the Fourth:

It may sound impossible, but you really can do it all (or most of it) on the fourth, you just have to plan ahead.

Honor our Founding Fathers:
Wake up early and walk to the Memorial of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence before the festivities begin. The memorial is located in Constitution Gardens across the footbridge to Signers Island on the National Mall. The Mall opens at 10:00am. Try your best to sneak a peak of the signatures of our Founding Fathers’ on Independence Day before it gets too crowded. If you don’t mind waiting in line, stop by the National Archives to view the Declaration of Independence, exactly 239 years after it was first signed. The Rotunda is open from 10:00am to 5:30pm.

Celebrate International Cultures:
In the midst of the patriotic festivities, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will still be going on. Weave through the tents to experience the cultures of Kenya and China firsthand.

Watch the Independence Day Parade on Constitution Ave.:
The parade kicks off at 11:45am at the intersection of 7th and Constitution. The parade features celebrities, marching bands, war heroes and more! Stay until the end or leave a bit early to head over to the Capitol lawn to grab a spot for the evening concert

Watch “A Capitol Fourth” preformed on the Capitol lawn:
Gates open at 3:00pm, so head over early to find the best viewing spot.  Performers include Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips, Patti Labelle and more. The concert begins at 8:00pm and will be broadcast live on PBS.fireworks2

See the fireworks launch on the National Mall:
The fireworks begin immediately after the last concert act (around 9:15) and are viewable from the lawn. If you are anywhere on the lawn you’ll have great seats, especially if you have a good view of the Washington Monument. Check out this list of the best places to see the fireworks.

Tips from the Pros:

  • Don’t buy a flag at the parade they’ll give them out for free at the concert!
  • Have at least one person in your group go without a bag. There is a “bag free” line to get into the Capitol lawn and it is always much shorter. Your designated group member can head in and steak out a spot.
  • Pack your lunch-picnic style for fun on the lawn rather than overpaying for concessions.
  • Water, water, water! Although Friday will be the coolest day of the week (forecasted in the lower 80s), there will be an estimated 700,000 people on the mall, and that many bodies in one area, with likely no shade, can add up to overheating and dehydration. The city will most likely have water bottle refill stations on the mall so keep your bottles and reuse them.
  • Remove all weapons and alcohol from your bags. Security personnel will search through your bags, so don’t try to sneak anything in. Here is a complete list of things NOT to bring.
  • If you are going to the concert early and want to save seats, have your friends all go together because they stamp hands and close off the first section for safety precautions to guests arriving late. You can take turns holding spots once you are all stamped in.
  • Pay attention to the security checkpoints and metro schedule in order to plan your best route accordingly.

Follow these tips to ensure you have a safe and happy fourth!



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