Lights, Camera, Capitol

Written by Joel Troutman – Coordinator, Institute on Business and Government Affairs

If Jonathan Lee were to describe his passion and future in one word, it would be “action”. Currently studying Film Production at Chapman University, Jonathan plans to start his own production company that would pair nonprofit organizations, the government, and other business not traditionally reached by video.

This plan led him to apply for the Institute on Business and Government Affairs so he would learn how a business of this type might run. While interning at Shirley & Banister Public Affairs this summer, Jonathan was able to gain valuable hands on experience working in a field that intersects business and government.

At home, Jonathan is involved with his community using his film making to tell stories about those who lack a voice. He has worked with several nonprofits from Aid Africa to Oak View Renewal Partnership. Working in DC this summer helped him expand his work experiences into a different sector.

Jonathan threw himself into the summer, attending any and every event, trying to maximize his experience in DC. Meeting as many people as possible and networking with guest speakers gave him a lot of insight into the professional world. While he admits that film-making is a tough business, he advises all future IBGA students to “work hard and enjoy yourself.”

For more information on our summer programs please visit

A ‘Thriving’ Summer in Washington, DC – Alumni Profile

Written by Carly Chafey – Coordinator, Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

Coming from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Collin McKone is pursuing degrees in Business Management and Finance at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Collin, who claims, “my ultimate life goal is to help as many people as possible within the limited time I have alive” spent the summer with the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service (IPVS) interning at Thrive DC.

collin3-3Thrive DC is a nonprofit that works to prevent and end homelessness by providing vulnerable people with a wide range of services to help stabilize their lives. Collin saw the potential of the female clients and was inspired to create Goal Seekers, a Motivational Program that creates an opportunity to create and accomplish goals on a weekly basis. Though still new, it has thus far proved to be an effective program.

The Fund for American Studies IPVS Roundtable
Collin was eager to get to spend a few weeks in our nation’s capital and definitely took advantage of everything D.C. has to offer. “The history and value of D.C. has astonished me,” he said. He visited George Washington’s Mount Vernon, kayaked on the Potomac with friends, attended optional TFAS events and lead an IPVS Fundraiser. By the end of his 4 weeks, he definitely earned the award he received as Most Outstanding Student.

For more information on our programs, visit

DETROIT TO DC: A Summer Lived to the Fullest

Written by Joe Starrs, Director – Institute on Political Journalism

When Elijah Baker arrived in Washington last summer to participate in the 2016 Institute on Political Journalism, he had one thought in mind: To get the most out of his experience in our nation’s capital. As a junior at Wayne State University in Detroit “Eli” had taken advantage of the opportunities that came his way in his classes and at various internships. Arriving for the first time in Washington, Eli jumped in with both feet.

The TFAS staff took notice of Eli as he began chronicling his experience with a video blog and regular updates on social media. Whether it was on tour of the Washington Post headquarters, a visit to the floor of the House of Representatives or weekend trip to New York City, Eli immersed himself in the experience and made sure he got it all down on video and often in print. At his internship with Radio America, Eli produced a long form video package on the cost of home ownership. Through a partnership with Radio America and the University of Delaware his project is now part of content offered by the University’ Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship.eli-1

At the end of his DC summer, Eli was awarded the Institute on Political Journalism’s Directors Award. This award is given to a student who embraces every aspect of the program with enthusiasm and commitment.

We caught up with Eli this week to ask him a bit more about his DC internship experience.

What surprised you most about Washington D.C.?
The most surprising thing about my time in DC was seeing everyone in suits 24/7. At the parks, people were super dressy. On the weekends, people were still dressed up. I honestly forgot what it felt like to wear jogging pants and a t-shirt on a daily basis. It sounds so minimal, but seeing everyone dressed up–especially those who look like me–made me feel important and think differently on how I carry myself.


Eli hams it up with his mentor Jim Forbes, Communications Director, Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL)

What did you learn about yourself?
The biggest thing I learned myself is that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. I didn’t allow fear to stop me from getting the most out of my TFAS experience. I refused to have a mediocre experience. Without God, I wouldn’t have been bold enough to do things I never thought was imaginable had I not stepped outside of my comfort zone. Fear did not stop me from fulfilling my purpose in DC.

Did you have a favorite neighborhood or monument in DC?
Every time I went to church on Sunday, I always sat and ate breakfast at Denny’s after service. I never ate at Denny’s before, but I fell in love with their omelets. So, that kept me coming back for more. I would go alone because it was far away from the business of downtown and I was able to spend time with myself.


Eli does NYC for the weekend.

What advice would you give to a student thinking about applying to DC Internships?
If you’re thinking about TFAS, simply remember to remain true to who you are. Don’t feel like you have to be like somebody else. At the end of the day, you were created for a purpose and nobody else can do what you were destined to be.  

For more information on our summer and semester programs, visit

Balancing Act: Keeping up Without Getting Overwhelmed

Written by Emma Polefko – Program Advisor, IPJ

wake up. metro. work. class. metro. sleep. repeat.

The daily grind can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes it becomes such a routine that you don’t even realize the days have passed, and other times you’re so busy you feel like you can barely keep up. How do you balance it all?

Most of us are overachievers in one way or another. We did, after all, volunteer to give up our summers to intern full time, take classes, and attend countless other events. But, overachievers are only human. And we inevitably need help to balance it all – whether or not we ask for help is another blog post for another day. Without having to ask, here are some tips and tricks to keep everything in balance. Even if you’ve heard them or read them before, they bear repeating.


Buy a planner or utilize the calendar on your phone or email. They are quite helpful. There’s something to be said about rote learning, and the nice thing about technology is that it can send you reminders – even for little things like picking up your drying cleaning or writing a blog post.

That said…

Put down your phone.

Constant interruptions make it harder to accomplish your tasks in a timely fashion. Do yourself a favor and put your phone down. Snapchat, social media, news blasts, sports updates and texts can all wait. The more focused you are on the task at hand, the easier your life will be.

Books before bed.

Between working, commuting, watching another episode of your favorite show on Netflix, staying in touch with friends, and keeping up with the news, we all stare at our screens far too much. Here’s an interesting concept: read a book before bed. Something that is so simple and obvious that is forgotten too often. It’s easier on the eyes, and it’s a nice break for the brain (depending on what you’re reading). Develop a better vocabulary, learn something new, start a great conversation.


Beware of the black hole that is Netflix. During finals one year, I watched a whole season of Scandal. That’s almost 24 hours. Those 24 hours could have easily been put to use in a much more productive way.

Good company.

Call home (or FaceTime). Write a letter to a friend. Eat dinner with friends. We’re all busy and we all get tired, but sometimes good company is all you need. Be present (read: put down your phone, again). Be grateful and enjoy the little things.

Make time for things you enjoy.

Go to your favorite museum and stare at your favorite painting. Take time to go on a run or do yoga. Go sit in your favorite park or on the National Mall. Call a friend. Try new food. Go grab a cupcake or gelato. Drink a cup of coffee because you like the taste of it, not because you need an energy boost. Take care of yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

Guide to the 4th of July Weekend in DC

This summer’s Program Advisors put together a guide for YOUR 4th of July in our nation’s capital! Whether it’s fireworks, food, festivals or Fourth Tips, we’ve got you covered.4th of july 2

Friday, July 1st

  • Head to the Marine Barracks for The Evening Parade which starts at 8:45pm, beginning with a concert by the Marine Band.

Saturday, July 2nd

  • Check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall. There will be a variety of cultural performances, demonstrations, workshops and food to experience.

Sunday, July 3rd 

  • If you’re serious about brunching, go to Ted’s Bulletin, a bustling eatery and a DC classic. The “walk-of-shame” breakfast burritos and home-made pop tarts are a must.
  • Go to the “A Capitol Fourth” full dress rehearsal concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol from 8:00pm-10:00pm.

Monday, July 4th


  • Do visit The National Archives from 10:00am-11:00am before the parade to listen to a reading of The Declaration of Independence.
  • Do attend the Independence Day parade at 11:45am on Constitution Ave. & 7th.
  • Don’t waste your time trying to find a rooftop – unless your spot is guaranteed.
  • Do spend 4th of July on the Mall (facing Lincoln), get there early and bring a blanket. *this is a must*
  • Don’t get to the Mall right before the fireworks – they stop letting people in.
  • Do Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Keep in mind that alcohol is NOT allowed through security.
  • Don’t think about taking the metro after the firework show.
  • Do take all the photos with your friends.
  • Don’t watch the fireworks through your phone screen (ie. Trying to take photos of them)
  • Do have a safety plan.

So you’re planning to stake out a spot on the National Mall? 4th of july 1

What to bring:

  • A Blanket
  • Camera
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • An umbrella just in case (or to use for shade)
  • Snacks! (also lunch and dinner depending on how long you will be there)
  • Hand sanitizer and your own toilet paper for the port-a-potties

Not planning to be on the Mall? Check out the fireworks from any number of locations. Here are some of the best.

No matter where you are or what your plans are for the 4th of July weekend, the most important thing is that you are in good company. Have fun and be safe!

Unique Ways to Explore DC

Written by Krista Gylling – Program Advisor, Leadership and the American Presidency

In case you haven’t heard it enough, your two months in Washington, DC go by fast. Remember to take time to see all the sights this city has to offer. Many students participated in the Monument Tour the first weekend, but there are other fun ways to see the city.

Krista SegwaySegway. I personally think that the best way to see The District is by Segway. The Jefferson Monument is a favorite of mine but is such a commitment to walk to from George Washington campus, so a Segway is the perfect way to get there. There are multiple Segway Tour companies in the city that offer general tours through the DC, monument tours, and highlights tour. I would recommend taking one of the night time slots because it is cooler, the area is typically less crowded, and seeing the monuments lit up at night is breathtaking. Tours are around $65 so it’s a nice activity to do when family comes to visit! krista kayak

Water. GWU is conveniently located within walking distance to the Potomac River. There are places along the river that you can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and canoes. Last summer fellow TFAS students and I walked to Georgetown and rented kayaks for a few hours. Seeing the monuments from the water versus on land is surprisingly different. The double kayak we rented was around $20 per hour.

Krista DuckAquaduck Tour. This tour is one of the more unusual touristy things I’ve done. The vehicle is both a bus and a boat – the first half of the tour is on land and the second half is in the water – the best of both worlds. It is a thrilling experience driving into the water with that moment of panic wondering if this bus will really float. Spoiler alert: it does float. The tour even gives out free duck calls!

No matter the method, make sure you get out and explore DC this summer!

Program Advisor’s DC Bucket List

Written by the 2016 Program Advisors

Washington, DC is a city of many museums, restaurants and other popular sites to see. It has so much to offer that it can be difficult to visit squeeze everything in during the eight weeks you are here. The PA’s have shared their ‘DC Bucket List’ items they didn’t get to accomplish during their TFAS summer.


  • Watch the sunrise from the Jefferson Memorial
  • Go to the White House
  • Meet one of my state Senators
  • Go to an outdoor movie with friends
  • Try Ethopian food


  • Watch a performance at The Kennedy Center
  • Kayak on the Potomac River
  • Try different ethnic food
  • Bike around the city


  • Go to the top of the Washington Monument
  • See EVERY Smithsonian
  • See President Obama or Vice President Biden in person (even if it is from far away)


  • Go to the National Zoo and see the newest panda Bei Bei
  • Tour the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • Go to the Arlington National Cemetery
  • National Cathedral stained glass tour


  • Go to the top of the Washington Monument
  • See the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives
  • Go kayaking on the Potomac River

What items are on your DC Bucket List?