Alumni Spotlight

We caught up with two Certified Nonprofit Professionals (CNPs) who completed the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service (IPVS) this past summer to find out how a summer in DC complemented their nonprofit studies. 

Cayla Rabinowitz is a sophomore at Arizona State University studying nonprofit leadership. This summer she interned with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, an organization that inspires young people to work for justice rooted in and nourished by Jewish values.

Micah Schultz is a senior at Western Michigan University majoring in global and international studies. He spent his summer as an intern in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Capital office. 

Tell us about your summer.

Cayla: “Out of all the work opportunities that I completed so far, I feel that this job successfully prepared me for life in the nonprofit world. I got to participate in board meetings, talk to donors of the organization, complete prospect research, handle personnel and financial files, work in Excel and Salesforce, and even help contribute to programming for the organization. I truly got to be a part of the behind the scenes work of a nonprofit.”

Micah: My summer in DC has greatly impacted my future life and career in many ways. I gained so much confidence [and] have created such incredible connections that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. In just 8 weeks I met some of the most inspirational people, some of whom I now consider extremely close friends! I now feel confident that I can push to achieve anything I put my heart to in the nonprofit sector, and I have incredible people backing me and willing to recommend me or just support me whenever I call upon them to do so.”

How did your CNP studies prepare you for this summer? 

Cayla:Being a member of NLA gave me networking skills, and a vast knowledge of the different kinds of nonprofits that exist. These skills prepared me for the class I took this summer, the Political Economy of Nonprofits & Humanitarian Aid, and enabled me to connect with our guest speakers on a different level.”

Micah, you took a leadership role in the IPVS Class Philanthropy Project. How did your Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) experience prepare you for this activity in particular?

Micah: “I was nominated for the Grant Committee, which gave me the opportunity to lead our class’ grant review and selection process. Having gone through a grant writing and approval course, I had a leg up and was able to teach others how to analyze and critique a grant. I found that my minor has given me a running start into the nonprofit sector. I’ve learned skills that some nonprofit professionals never have the opportunity to learn before they enter the field, and have gotten to see all different aspects of a nonprofit, from applying for a 501c3 tax exemption to the implementation of programs to the aspect of development. Most people only get to learn and experience one or two of those in their entirety of working in the nonprofit sector.”

What advice do you have for students considering the IPVS program?

Cayla: Take advantage of all the opportunities that IPVS has to offer. There may be days where you are too tired to go to optional activities. But, the opportunities that are provided are incredible and could easily change your life. IPVS offers so many opportunities to meet people [and] do things that you normally don’t get to see or do. Mange your time so you can do all these wonderful opportunities, no matter how tired you may be!

Micah: “The program has a price tag attached to it. Do not be frightened by this. There are incredible staff at IPVS that are willing to talk every day on the phone for two weeks to ensure you have figured your financials out to attend the program. Also, plan for incredibly fun things around DC. Go to the zoo, listen to Jazz in the Garden on Fridays, attend concerts or sporting events, but most of all, have fun. Be prepared to have your personal views challenged. This will happen many times in the city of politics. Be sure to be open-minded. Ensure you are willing to discuss, not debate, your differences. This is a once in a lifetime experience that millions of people would kill to have. Apply. Be determined. Show IPVS that you want to live, learn, and intern.”

Micah & Cayla

Cayla & Micah were recently featured in the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance newsletter. Click here to read the article.

For more information on IPVS please visit

If You Haven’t Already, Make Sure To…

The summer has flown by and your time in Washington is sadly wrapping up. You most likely moved to DC with an overflowing Bucket List of items to accomplish: playing kickball on the National Mall, kayaking on the Potomac, watching the 4th of July fireworks, and much more. What makes DC so unique is that there is almost too many places to go and things to do, and 8 weeks is a short amount of time to fit it all in. Luckily you still have one more weekend to squeeze in last minute items.

To help you out, the PAs have come up with their list of final ‘must-do’ activities before you leave the city:

Ben: Take a trip to “The BEACH” before you leave the District. This one-of-a-kind ‘Beach’ covers 10,000 square feet with nearly one million recyclable plastic balls. Grab a group of friends, buy your $5 student tickets and get lost in the ocean.BEACH

Lucero: Catch a free show at the Kennedy Center! Make a reservation to have dinner with your friends at the Roof Terrace Restaurant which comes with a panoramic view of the city. It’s on the pricey side, but the experience is remarkable.

Savannah: Eat a homemade pop tart at Ted’s Bulletin. There are several different flavors and each one is absolutely delicious! In additional to the traditional flavors, the current seasonal flavor is Key Lime Pie, yum. Ted’s has two convenient locations: 14th Street and on Capitol Hill neighborhoods. Teds

Kendrick: Check out a second hand book store. There’s one in DuPont Circle and another really great one in Eastern Market. They’re a great way to unwind after work or to spend your mornings on the weekends :) And obviously, they’re cheap!

monuments at nightJohn: Take a tour of the monuments at night. Most of the memorials are open late and their illumination makes after dark a perfectly picturesque time to visit. You can do a self-guided walking tour with a group of friends, or sit back, relax and let the experts take you on a bus tour.

A Guide to the 4th of July in DC

Written by Mallie Woodfin – Coordinator, Recruitment & Admissions

Washington, DC is unquestionably one of the top places to be for the 4th of July. The endless activities, exhilarating energy and history of the city make DC a great place to celebrate. We’ve come up with a quick guide to help you enjoy the holiday as a Washingtonian!


  • Independence Day Parade – Put on your red, white and blue and head to
    Constitution Avenue to kick off the holiday. There will be bands, drill teams, balloons and floats. The parade starts at 11:45am.  4th street
  • National’s Game – DC’s baseball team will take on the San Francisco Giants at Nat’s Park at 11:05am. Enjoy a 4th of July hot dog or half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
  • Museums – A classic DC activity enhanced during the holiday. Escape the heat and see The Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, or the flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History.
  • A Capitol Fourth – If you want to have a true 4th of July in DC, this event can’t be missed! The free concert will be held on the Capitol’s West Lawn at 8pm (gates open at 3pm). For all the West Wing fans out there, actor Bradley Whitford – also known as White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, is the host. He will introduce performers including headliner Barry Manilow, Nicole Scherzinger, KC and The Sunshine Band plus many more. The National Mall will be extremely crowded so plan to arrive early! (Insider Tip: If you want to avoid the crowd, there will be a full dress rehearsal on Friday night.)

The DC fireworks show is one to be remembered! What could be a better backdrop than The Capitol and iconic monuments? And the best part is there really isn’t a bad place to sit and take in the outstanding performance:

  • The National Mall – This is an obvious yet perfect place to watch the show. You are sure to have a great view no matter where you sit. While The Mall is pretty big, it will fill up quicker than you’d imagine so get there early!4th
  • Gravelly Point Park – Many people flock to this park on the Potomac to catch the views from Virginia.
  • Georgetown Waterfront – Grab a quick bite to eat from one of the many restaurants in the area and enjoy the show water-side. (Insider Tip: The Key Bridge is a less common viewpoint to try.)
  • On the Potomac – If being on dry land isn’t what you have in mind, take your celebration to the river! There are a number of cruises offering food, drinks and an unbeatable view. While this option is a little pricey, a cheaper alternative is renting a kayak from one of the boathouses around the city.

If food is on the top of your to-do list, two ‘presidential’ restaurants are a good place to be!

  • Lincoln – The trendy restaurant is a hotspot throughout the year. They are hosting an Independence Day Party on Saturday with bottomless BBQ and a DJ.
  • Teddy and the Bully Bar – The sister restaurant to Lincoln is hosting a ‘Cue and Crabs’ party from 2-11pm.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Transportation – The metro will be extra crowded this weekend. If you are going to The Mall, get on/off at a stop a few stops away to avoid congestion. Metro will run on a Saturday schedule on Friday and Saturday until 2pm, with increased service before and after the fireworks. (Insider Tip: Taxis and ubers may be hard to come by with the extra influx of people in the city. If you can, try to stay within walking distance of your housing.)
  • Security – There will be a number of checkpoints along the National Mall and other surrounding areas. People, bags and coolers are subject to inspection, and no alcoholic beverages will be permitted.
  • Stay in groups and be aware – This applies to anytime you explore a city, but especially during busy holidays. Always have a buddy with you, make sure your group knows where you are going and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Be prepared – It is likely to be a long and hot day. Pack plenty of water, food and sunscreen to last you throughout the day.


The Art of Networking

Written by Savannah Hostetter – Program Advisor, the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems

Networking is an important skill for every young professional to master. I prefer to think of networking as relationship building. There’s an art to it, here’s how it works:

Step 1) The First Impression: You will attend events filled with professionals eligible to help you in your career. From the moment you walk in the door, you want to make a good impression.

A firm handshake, proper eye contact, and a clean, appropriate appearance are the necessary keys to starting a good conversation.

networking guyOnce the conversation begins, listen, participate and ask a couple of questions. If the person’s interests start to align with your passions, keep the conversation going. Talking too much or only about yourself (especially your resume) can be off-putting. As a popular quote goes, “It is better for people to think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Be Smart. Be Real. Be Likeable.

Step 2) The Connection: At the end of an engaging conversation, ask for his or her business card. It is better to get the contact information of one person you are genuinely interested in than to meet as many people as possible. It’s the old quality over quantity principle.

Remember, networking isn’t a competition. Too many interns make the mistake of handing out business cards like Halloween candy.

Be memorable (in a good way) and make an authentic connection.Network card

Step 3) The Follow Up: As the intern, it is your responsibility to initiate the second conversation. You must continue the professional relationship. Send a quick follow up email containing “Hello John, It was a pleasure meeting you at the Press Club luncheon on Friday. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation about the impact of higher education on a person’s financial decisions…..”  Request to meet again. Offering to buy the person a cup of coffee is typically a safe bet.

Step 4) Making It Real: Last but not least, when it comes to networking, it is important to never view people as simply a means to an end. Instead, view people as people.  Yes, some individuals might be able to help you land your dream job. However, network with people who can help you in the greater scheme of life.  Connect with professionals who genuinely care about what you are passionate about.

Make friends rather than contacts.

Jane Austin states, “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”  In the end, if the new relationship you’ve built leads to a job, that’s awesome. If not, you’ve gained a friend and more than likely learned something new all while mastering the art of networking along the way.

Don’t be #ThatIntern

Written by Lucero Pina – Program Advisor, the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

Interning in DC during the summer can be one of the most fascinating and exciting experiences. It becomes incredibly easy to get lost in a city that has history around every corner and opportunities up every avenue. Harnessing those opportunities is probably the most important thing that you can do here, and it all begins with your internship!

Being an intern gives you the chance to see the inner workings of an organization and helps you grow. However, this also means that eyes are on you! An internship can function as a two month interview so watch out with what you do and say. Most importantly, don’t be #ThatIntern….

1. “My alarm didn’t go off” Intern

Whether you are a night owl or an early riser, set as many alarms as needed to help you get up and ready for your day at the office. If you are running late, send a quick text or e-mail to your supervisor and let them know that you are going to be in soon (Don’t make this a habit!). The most important thing is to keep everyone informed. When you make it in, don’t be #ThatIntern who blames their alarm for not going off.

2. “Can I go home now” Intern

There will be days when you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you will not complete half of the things that you were assigned for that day. Other days you will look at your to-do list and imagine a prairie field because of the lack of items on your list. If you are caught in the latter, do not be #ThatIntern and ask if you can go home. Not only does this show a lack of respect for the organization, but this also portrays a lack of interest because there is ALWAYS something to do! Organize materials in the copy room, look at the organization’s PR materials and come up with a list of suggestions, ask people from different departments if they need help. Do something to keep yourself involved in your work but do not be #ThatIntern who asks to go home because they have nothing to do.

3. “That’s not my job” Intern

If you are asked to make copies for a meeting, deliver something to the mail room, put stamps on envelopes, just like Nike, #JustDoIt! As an intern you provide invaluable support to your organization and sometimes that means doing the little things as well as large projects!

4.  “Inappropriate” Intern

While in DC you will not only try to market yourself as a potential hire, but you will also represent TFAS, your organization and your school. That being said, be mindful of what you do, what you say and how you say it. If you are invited to social events and you are not 21, don’t drink if alcohol is being served. If you are 21, limit yourself to 1-2 drinks. You never know who might be at the reception and witnessing your behavior.

5. “Know it all” Intern

Remember that the professionals at your internship have more experience than you. While it is important to share your opinions and suggestions, make sure you are listening to your supervisors and learning from their guidance. You don’t want to come off as the “know it all” intern.


Getting (and Staying!) Organized Between Classes, Internships, and Events This Summer

Written by Kendrick Lewis – Program Advisor, the Institute on Business and Government Affairs

Your summer in Washington, DC is likely to be packed with exciting and enlightening information. At the end of your time here with TFAS, everything you learned and all of the experiences you gained may start to seem like a wonderful blur. Here are some helpful ways to organize yourself in a way that makes the most out of your summer.

  • Keep a notebook. I recommend multiple subject notebooks. They neatly divide your notebook contents and often have pockets in which you can store memos or handouts for each subject. During guest lecture series, site briefings, professional development seminars, and classes, take notes on topics you find interesting. I find that by taking notes, I learn to draw more of my own conclusions, or more easily think of questions to ask. Organize your notes accordingly by subject.
  • Binders are great, too! If you aren’t a big note-taker, binders are great for organizing memos, handouts, informational packets, and other miscellaneous materials you may collect over the course of the summer. Use dividers to break up the contents of the binder. You may want a tab for your internship work, your class work, and for TFAS events, or you may want to break it down further by designating a tab for each class or each set of events you attend.
  • Make lists. At your internship, you’ll likely be engaged in a number of various projects and tasks that hone your administrative skills. Keep a running list of new skills you pick up while in the office (Excel, website editing, blogging, etc.). This will prove incredibly helpful when it’s time to update your resume. As you familiarize yourself with your internship, make lists of projects you want to do over the course of your internship.
  • Update your planner. And if you don’t have one, get one! Although your program staff is diligent about providing weekly and monthly schedules, it doesn’t hurt to maintain a personal record of assignments you need to accomplish or events you need/want to attend. There are few things more satisfying than crossing off a completed task!
  • Set goals. Personal progress rarely occurs within the confines of one’s comfort zone. Think about what you want to get out of your time here in DC, and then make strides to accomplish these goals. Push yourself to put in the extra hour of studying. Snag the spot in the professional development seminar that just opened up – you never know what you might gain.

Alum Testimonial – From the ICPES PA

Written by Savannah Hostetter – Program Advisor, Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems

Savannah 2I have a confession to make. Ten years ago, I, too, was one of those awkward, neon-shirt-wearing, monument-gawking, 5th graders that plague Washington, D.C. So, when the opportunity arose for me to live, learn, and intern in the city I’d fallen in love with on a school field trip, I applied right away! For eight weeks, TFAS pushed me far beyond my limits. The Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) opened my mind to new ways of critically examining our nation’s economic and public policy controversies, and it molded me into a young professional prepared to reach new career heights.

Savannah 3I interned on Capitol Hill in the office of U.S. Representative Michael K. Conaway (TX-11).  My internship provided me with the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience and conduct challenging legislative research. By the end of the summer, I had written fifteen constituent letters addressing issues ranging from the bushmeat trade in Africa, to President Obama’s sanctions against Russia relating to the Ukraine crisis. Part of my internship also included a project on educational policy affecting military dependents and disabled children. Overall, my favorite part of the job was the conversations I had with numerous constituents, congressional staffers, and congressmen.

The classes in ICPES were challenging, interactive, and rewarding. My classes were filled with some of the brightest students in the nation. As a result, class time was often spent engaging in meaningful discussion about public policy.

Savannah 1My TFAS experience has not only opened doors of opportunity, but it has also prepared me to boldly and successfully walk through them. My summer experience in D.C. has changed my life. Upon conclusion of my TFAS experience, the TX-11 office recommended me to fill an open staff assistant position with the House Ethics Committee. I was named the Outstanding Student of ICPES at graduation, and I am now blessed to serve as the 2015 ICPES Program Advisor. Due to TFAS’ partnership with GMU, I was able to take the classes I needed to graduate from Abilene Christian University two years early. Thanks to a positive letter of recommendation from my internship office, I will begin law school at Baylor University in February. Thank you, TFAS staff, supporters, and alumni for making a tangible difference in the lives of so many students!