Preparing for your Summer in DC

Written by Mallie Woodfin, Recruitment and Admissions Coordinator

In a few days, Washington, DC will gain 350 new summer residents to attend our Live. Learn. Intern Programs. Moving to a city for the summer is overwhelming, so we have some helpful tips and tricks to make the move less stressful. Below you will find a check list of things to do, pack and leave behind for your summer in DC!

Don’t forget to pack:

  • Rain Gear – DC is known for its afternoon summer showers, so have an umbrella, boots and rain jacket on hand.
  • An extra blazer or jacket – You never know when you’ll need one, better to be prepared.
  • A robe and shower shoes – Commonly forgotten, but nice to have in a shared living space.
  • Refillable water bottle and sunscreen – DC is notoriously hot in the summer. It is so important to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
  • Notebook and pens – This will make you look prepared and ready to take notes or jot down things to remember.
  • A bag/purse/briefcase – You’ll want a professional looking piece to hold all of your necessary items.
  • Commuter shoes – Ladies, a pro-tip: wear your flats while commuting then change in to your heels.
  • Quarters and extra change/cash – These will be necessary to do laundry and come in handy at other times as well.
  • Reusable grocery bags – Avoid the bag fee; bring these to carry your groceries back to your dorm.

It is also important to not over pack. Don’t make the mistake of bringing too many unnecessary things. This will make carrying your suitcase much easier and allow for more space in your dorm room.

Leave behind:

  • Clothes you know you will not wear – winter coats, boots, flannel, etc.
  • Extra clothes – You don’t need to pack a ton of t-shirts and sweatpants. Only a handful is necessary.
  • Items you do not want to lose – valuable jewelry, family heirlooms, etc.
  • 100 pairs of shoes – You only need a few pairs for work, play and exercise.

Other things to do:

  • If you haven’t done so already, coordinate with your roommates to determine who is bringing which items. You don’t want to have duplicate sets that occupy space unnecessarily.
  • Contact your internship supervisor or TFAS staff member for office guidelines and appropriate work attire.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area – look online at maps of where you will be living, interning and taking classes.
  • Make a “Bucket List” of places to visit and things to see before the summer is over.

Follow DCinternships on Twitter, FaceBook and Instagram for more helpful tips leading up to and during the summer!

Alum Testimonial – Lucero Pina

In January 2014, I dared to push send on the application for a DC Internships’ summer program. As a rising senior and political science major I figured that I should start planning for the future and develop some experience in the city in which I wanted to live, Washington, D.C.

I interned with Everybody Wins! DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving children’s literacy through mentoring. Initially, I was concerned about the type of work I would be doing as an intern. I wanted to do something that would make a difference and challenge me, but also something that I felt confident in. My worries subsided as soon as I started work with EW! DC. Here, I was not just an “intern,” I was a team member who had a voice, responsibilities, and consequently, I fell in love with their mission.

As a program quality control associate, I was given important work analyzing EW’s mentoring program, and encouraged to make recommendations for ways to improve the program. For example, one afternoon after reviewing surveys I wondered: why don’t we administer an exit survey to students to record how much they increase their reading skills by participating in our mentoring program? I raised my idea with the program director, suggesting that an exit survey could help us better track and report our numbers, which could lead to more grants and more mentors. I left the office that afternoon excited that I had shared my thoughts and in awe of the amazing work that EW!DC accomplishes.

Outside of my internship that summer, I worked alongside the other students in my class to complete academic coursework, service projects, and multiple fundraisers so that we could award a grant of $2,178 to a local, non-profit organization. Before I knew it the summer had come to an end and so had my time in DC… or so I thought.Lucero Cropped

In December of 2014, I received an email from EW!DC offering me a job! I was flattered, excited and eager to continue my relationship with the amazing team that I had grown extremely fond of. Now I am a school coordinator carrying out daily operations for a mentoring program at an elementary school. My role consists of coordinating mentoring activities between about 100 mentors and 90 students. I schedule daily reading times between mentors and students and coordinate monthly book distributions, while fostering a strong relationship with school administrators and teachers. After my work in the school, I return to the main office to provide program support. My current projects include grant research and writing, assisting with planning a fundraiser auction, creating presentations and writing for our newsletter, just to name a few.

I can’t forget that my work with EW!DC would not have be possible without DC Internships. The Live, Learn, Intern experience opened a world of opportunities here in Washington.

Lucero Pina is a 2014 graduate of the Institute on Philanthropy & Voluntary Service, completing her final semester at Southwestern University through her work with Everybody Wins! DC. For more information on our programs, please visit

Alum Testimonial – India Heckstall: How TFAS helped shape her future.

India Heckstall, an ICPES alumna, has recently been accepted to American University’s Masters of Public Policy program. She attended the summer 2014 programs and interned with Biocom. When she shared her exciting news with our staff, she explained that she owed her acceptance to the experience she gained last summer in Washington.

We asked India a few questions about her experience. Below, you will read her reflections on her internship, what she valued from the classes and her favorite things about DC.

India H - Cong. Swalwell (2)What was the best part of your internship?

  • The best part of my internship with Biocom was the amount of research I was given to do. At my internship I was able to enhance my research skills while also learning more about the legislative process and the importance of lobbyist groups. I was able to improve my public speaking skills by presenting to numerous Congressmen research I had completed on NIH funding. My internship better prepared me for the real world by giving me experience that is useful when applying to jobs after graduation. I was able to enhance or add new skills that are meaningful to my particular field of study.

What was the most important thing you took away from your internship?

  • The most important thing that I took away from my internship was the importance of making connections. My supervisor stressed the importance of making yourself known if you wanted to have a successful career.

What was your favorite class at George Mason University? What was the most valuable thing you learned in class?India - group at WM

  • My favorite class was Economic Problems and Public Policies. Professor Bradley was an amazing professor who brought economics to life. She used real-world examples to help students better understand economic concepts. She helped me understand better the importance of supply and demand and how it relates to everyday situations.

What was your favorite site briefing?

  • My favorite site briefing was the CIA. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to hear stories and speak with people who were on CIA missions. It was an experience that was invaluable and I am grateful that TFAS was able to give us the opportunity to learn more about the CIA through CIA personnel.

India - MLK & Jefferson Memorial (2)What was your favorite part of your summer with TFAS?

  • My favorite part of the entire summer was networking. Being from a small city, I always dreamed of moving to Washington DC after I graduated; however, I was unsure of how I could make this happen. TFAS gave me the opportunity to make connections with people in DC who would in the future offer me a job, internship, or even an opportunity to attend graduate school. Networking allowed me to secure my acceptance into American University’s School of Public Affairs. I believe that TFAS gave me the “edge” that many graduate school programs are looking for.

How did TFAS help prepare you for your senior year and deciding to go to graduate school for public policy?

  • TFAS helped prepare me for my senior year because it strengthened my desire to want to live in Washington DC after I graduate from Campbell University. While living in DC, I learned more about public policy and the experience helped me realize that this is exactly what I want to do. I am super excited to be returning to Washington DC after I graduate. I am even more excited and passionate about pursuing a career in public policy. Washington DC is the place for me to learn more about my field of study.

Are you interested in interning in DC this summer? Our application deadline has been extended to April 7th. Visit for more information and to start an application!

Top 10 Ways Internships Benefit Your Career

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 for more information on our internship programs.





Reflections from a Former DC Intern – Jenny Maas (IPJ ’09)

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.


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,, The New York Observer,, 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!


Top 6 things to do after an interview

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. (

  1. Send a Thank You Note: In her article “10 things to do after a job interview” on, 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 titled “10 things do after a job interview”, freelance writer and regular columnist for, 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!

Resume and Cover Letter Tips from the Pros

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.