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Written by Jesse Schaefer – Manager, the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

The verdict is in: even short-term internships are a wise investment for students. Here’s a list of ten ways in which internships benefit students looking to bridge the gap between college and a career.

  1. Assess your interest
    You may think this is the career you want, but it’s hard to know until you experience a job day-to-day. An internship gives you the chance to test the waters in your chosen field before committing to a full-time job or an advanced degree.
  2. Earn valuable work experience
    In addition to specialized skills, you’ll be honing transferable skills like communication, time management, and problem solving.
  3. Get a foot in the door
    Internship experiences provide a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your skills to a prospective employer.  Impress them now, so that you’ll already be on the list of top candidates when an entry-level job opens up.Group of businesspeople. Businessman shaking hands.
  4. Master office etiquette
    As an intern, you’ll have the chance to observe professionals in an office environment – take notice. This is your chance to practice things like writing a concise email, answering the telephone, or greeting clients. You will make mistakes, but learning the ropes now will prevent you from making faux pas in your first full-time job.
  5. Meet peers with similar interests
    Internship programs can introduce you to other students and recent graduates who share your interests—a good thing for your career and your social life.
  6. Boost your confidence
    Getting experience in your field is a surefire way to build confidence in your abilities. This confidence will go a long way toward convincing an interviewer that you can do the job, especially when you’re able to back up your answer with examples from your internship.
  7. Gain awareness of your strengths and weaknesses
    Internships offer a unique opportunity to examine your strengths and weaknesses. Set goals and seek feedback from your supervisor on your performance.
  8. Increase your marketability
    These days, a college degree does less than it once did to set you apart in the job search. The candidates who stand out are those who also have work experience; employers take this as a sign that you require less training and are able to handle more responsibilities.
  9. Apply your education
    Nothing is more rewarding than putting your studies to practical use. You may even find your understanding of an issue deepens with the chance to learn by doing.
  10. Acquire references
    During an internship, your supervisor and colleagues spend time with you in a professional setting and become familiar with your work. Perform well, and they can serve as references or provide letters of recommendation to help you secure future opportunities.

Visit www.DCinternships.org for more information on our internship programs.

 

 

 

 

The only thing I hated about being a journalism major in college, were the responses I got every time I told someone I was a journalism major, most of which included informing me that print is a dying industry and I wouldn’t have a job come graduation.

This was especially rough to hear when I was just a freshman working my hardest on the school paper.

So, frightened for my future, I began looking for a summer internship, as I knew internships were the best way to secure future employment.

That is how I came across The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) and the Institute on Political journalism (IPJ) program, which offered a package deal of college courses, D.C. experiences, and an internship.

About a month after applying, I got a call from Joe Starrs, who interviewed me for a place in the Institute on Political Journalism. The interview went well, as I had written some pretty big stories for the NYU school paper and I had a good GPA. This all boded well for me.

But I was a freshman and Joe was very honest with me that the program was rigorous, and generally made up of upperclassmen.  I would be one of the few rising sophomores.

I said not a problem. I was an adult. I could totally handle this. Soon after I was offered a spot, and I took it.

I began my summer at TFAS (Go class of 09’!) in June and was amazed at how many opportunities I was given, including the journalism courses I took, and the visits I made to the Capitol, Australian embassy, and National Press Club.

But it was the responsibilities handed to me at my internship that reflected what Joe had said about being young.

I had been placed at The Washington Times as a metro desk intern, but for all intents and purposes, I was a reporter. I went out in the field, covering breaking news all over the district.

This was a good and bad thing, as several tragic events happened in Washington that summer, the greatest of which was a Metro line crash that killed nine people.

I covered the crash the day it happened, and continued to cover it for the rest of the summer.

At nineteen-years-old I was calling families of the victims asking them about their loved ones. Needless to say it was a lot to handle. But my editor reminded me that I was a journalist, that this was my job and that I could do it.

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Jenny and Kenneth Tomlinson, her TFAS mentor

And what I was learning in my IPJ ethics course, and from the program in general, helped me to make the right choices when handling this sensitive issue. I had been given the tools to become a wiser and more experienced journalist than I would have ever been otherwise at nineteen.

It was evident that, despite my age, I had been able to succeed at the task when Joe Starrs handed me the John Chamberlain Award for Excellence in Print Journalism, at the IPJ graduation, for the work I had done at the Times that summer.

When I returned to school that fall, I put everything I had into biting off more than I could chew in the journalism world, and challenged myself to become a better writer. I sought out every chance to intern and get real hands on experience. This was something my peers would not get around to for a few semesters, as they had no real experience build off of.

This is what made me stop listening to the naysayers who had once made me question my abilities to find employment and succeed in my industry. I was already ahead, and I was not going to waste that advantage.

TFAS challenged me and pushed me and gave me a leg up in my journalism career I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It set in motion every other journalism experience I have had to date.

And I couldn’t thank the program more.

 

Jennifer Maas, 24, grew up in Northern Virginia and is an alumna of the Institute on Political Journalism. She attended New York University, and graduated with a double major in journalism and food studies in 2014. While in school she held several intern and freelance positions at major news outlets including Time Inc., The Washington Post, ABCNews.com, The New York Observer, Bustle.com, and The Washington Times. Jennifer recently moved to Los Angeles, California, where she is currently interning at Entertainment Weekly. Check out her blog, That’s So Grown-Up, for tips on everything from grad school and interviews to gift buying and budgeting!

 

Written by Matt Phister – Associate, Capital Semester & the Legal Studies Institute

Job hunting in the current competitive market can be a major challenge and the smallest details can make the biggest difference! You’re a stellar candidate, your resume helped you get your foot in the door and you’ve successfully completed the first interview. Now what? How do you make yourself stand out amongst the competition and show that you’re the best candidate for the job?

Here’s a list of 6 things you should do post-interview to stay at the top of the candidate list:

  1. Take Notes: Jeanine Hamilton, founder and President of Hire Partnership, advises that during and after the interview you should take notes on:
    • People you met with
    • Topics of discussion
    • Questions you were asked
    • Things you learned
    • Questions or concerns you have moving forward

    You should also inquire about the follow-up process so you’re clear on the steps moving forward. (Boston.com)

  1. Send a Thank You Note: In her article “10 things to do after a job interview” on Forbes.com, career coach and author Nancy Collamer says you should always send a follow-up thank you note. Handwritten notes are recommended as they have a more personal effect and are rarely thank you letterutilized by candidates in today’s market. Include in the note a brief statement about something you discussed during the interview or a point you want to highlight showing why you’re a good fit. This will remind your interviewer who you were, what you talked about, and why they should remember you as a top candidate.
  2. Be Punctual with the Follow-Up: In a similar article on CNN.com titled “10 things do after a job interview”, freelance writer and regular columnist for CareerBuilder.com, Beth Braccio Hering recommends that if the interviewer asks you to send them references after the interview, send them within 24 hours. Be clear on the follow-up timeline and know if and when you’re supposed to call or e-mail the interviewer. This will reflect you’re serious about the opportunity.
    Collamer also recommends these final three steps to continue to separate yourself from the crowd:
  3. Utilize a Connection: The hiring process is not just about what you know, but who knows and trusts you. If you know someone who may be connected to the company or those making the hiring decision, ask them to put in a good word for you. Having a trusted contact tell the hiring manager that you’ll make a great employee will send you miles ahead of the competition.
  4. Continue to Prepare for Round 2: Following the interview, it may take weeks or months for the interviewer to get back to you with an answer. During that time you should keep researching the company and for a follow-up interview. Referencing information that isn’t on the check listwebsite or mentioning an article about a recent company initiative will leave the impression that you are passionate, knowledgeable, and resourceful.
  5. Keep Looking: Just because you aced the interview and followed-up afterwards doesn’t mean you’re going to get the job. It may take weeks for the company to tell you that you’ve not been selected, so you should never stop looking for other opportunities. You don’t want to be stuck without options, so until you hear the words “you’re hired”, you should continue the hunt!

If you complete these six steps, you’ve set yourself apart from the competition. Keep working hard, standing out, and excelling at the factors that others often forget, and you’ll be hired in no time!

Written by Mallie Woodfin – Coordinator, Recruitment and Admissions 

You may know her as the “fantastically fierce” star of TLC’s Wedding Island, but Sandy Malone has other talents besides Sandy Malone (2)wedding planning. Sandy, an alumna of the Institute on Political Journalism, was the keynote speaker at orientation for the summer 2014 program. She gave the students tips on how to be the best intern and get the most out of their summer experience.

Sandy has an intense internship program at her company Weddings in Vieques in Puerto Rico. In her most recent blog for the Huffington Post, she shares resume and cover letter faux pas and tips to avoid being the laughing stock of her resume pile. Sandy states “You may give the best interview in the entire world, but first, you have to be invited to interview with the company you’ve applied to work for – and you won’t be if you have a hysterical resume or misguided-sounding cover letter.”

Her top resume tips?

  • Leave your GPA off your resume unless it is higher than a 3.5.
  • Don’t address your cover letter to the wrong person.
  • Know where and what you’re applying for before you send the cover letter and resume.
  • Never send an outdated resume.
  • It isn’t necessary for a college student to go back to 2006 on their resume.

Read Sandy’s hilariously accurate blog here.

Written by Dylan Reed – Coordinator, The Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems

Over 30 million people are expected to tune into President Obama’s State of the Union address this evening. As every news outlet prepares to write about the annual speech, we wanted to join the crowd with our version of top three things to look for tonight.

1. “Mr. Speaker…”
On an evening steeped in tradition, the author’s personal favorite is the formal protocol for entry into the House chamber. As President Obama enters the chamber around 9:00pm this evening, the House Sergeant of Arms will loudly announce to the joint session of Congress and guests: “Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States!” This will certainly not make headlines, but it is fun to keep any eye out for this ritual.

2. No/Few New Policy Pronouncements
The Obama White House seems to be breaking with tradition this year, and does not plan to announce new policy proposals in the State of the Union. Presidents have historically used the SOTU to present their agenda for the upcoming year. These proposals typically are tied to the budget, as the President delivers his budget to Congress on February 1st. President Obama and his team have used the last few weeks to announce new policy proposals, such a investing in community college and tax reform. Tonight will most likely reiterate those points, only with millions of Americans as the audience.

3. Seating Arrangement
The State of the Union is a special event as all major individuals in the federal government will be in attendance. Vice President Biden and Speaker Boehner sit behind President Obama for the duration of the speech. Members of Congress will most likely sit by political party, which creates an interesting visual dichotomy when only one party chooses to stand and applaud a part of the speech. Nine individuals, however, do not partake in applause for policy proposals during the speech: the Supreme Court Justices. Designed to be an impartial institution, the SOTU illuminates this principle as Justices customarily do not react to statements about policy.

We hope you enjoy our top three list for the 2015 State of the Union. Get your popcorn ready!

Written by Mallie Woodfin – Coordinator, Recruitment and Admissions

Working for no pay, who would sign up for this? If being hired after graduation is desirable to you, your name should be at the top of the sign-up sheet. An article published by the Wall Street Journal states that employers are looking closer at the ‘experience’ section of resumes in comparison to GPAs. “Employers now give nearly twice as much weight to graduates’ work experience as to their academic credentials, according to a 2012 survey for the Chronicle of Higher Education.”

Universities have caught on to this trend and are altering curriculums and practices because of it. They are creating internship programs of their own, bumping up budgets for campus career centers and requiring internships in order to graduate.

Here are a few helpful hints to landing an internship:

  • Visit the career center – they are a great resource (conveniently located on campus) to help guide students on the career path.
  • Do research – now is the time to be looking for internships, not the month before you plan on taking one. Organizations hire interns like full time employees – it takes time.
  • Put in the effort – looking for internships is not an easy task. Make a plan of where and what type of internship you want. Once you are an intern, give it 110% – they might hire you after graduation.

Are you interested in interning in Washington, DC this summer? Visit www.DCinternships.org for more information! Read the full Wall Street Journal article here.

Written by Mallie Woodfin, Coordinator – Recruitment and Admissions

Even though holiday music has been playing since Halloween, Christmas is finally just around the corner! If you are spending time in DC over the holidays, we have compiled some of the top activities the city has to offer. Whether skating, shopping or sight-seeing is on your list, we have plenty of suggestions for you!

Explore Winter Wonderlands:

  • Take a stroll to The Ellipse near The White House to see the National Christmas Tree – Tickets are not required and there will be musical performances in the evenings throughout December.christmas tree
  • Walk up The National Mall to the West Lawn of the Capitol to see the Capitol Christmas Tree.
  • Over 230,000 wreaths were laid at Arlington National Cemetery on December 13th. If you have never visited the cemetery before, now is a great time. The wreaths will be there for approximately three more weeks.

Activities around the City:

  • Spend an evening walking amongst the animals and admiring thousands of twinkling lights at the Smithsonian’s ZooLights. There are nightly performances and refreshments for people of all ages to enjoy.Zoo lights
  • Have some fun on the ice! Skate around the sculptures at the Sculpture Garden or take in Potomac views at the Georgetown Harbor rink. If your skills need a little work, both rinks offer lessons.
  • If the performing arts is more your style, The Washington Ballet is performing the Nutcracker ballet at the Warner Theater until December 28th.

Check off your Shopping List:

  • There is a Holiday Market open daily in downtown DC. With over 150 vendors selling jewelry, art, clothing and many more items, you are sure to find something! If you are looking for an alternative outdoor shopping experience, head to Eastern Market for more vendors or to the Georgetown area for more standard stores.
  • Still need to purchase the official 2014 White House ornament? The White House has a gift shop where official merchandise is available for purchase.
  • If you still haven’t found the perfect gift, there are the malls. The most popular are Pentagon City, Chevy Chase and Ballston Common.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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