Written by Emma Polefko – 2016 Program Advisor, Institute on Political Journalism
While studying abroad in Rome, Italy during fall semester of my sophomore year, a family friend suggested that I look into The Fund for American Studies. As soon as I got back to the States I applied, and when I was notified that I’d been accepted to the Institute of Comparative Politics and Economics Systems, I was beyond excited for the opportunity and adventure that lay before me.
Summer 2014, I had the pleasure of working for the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Office of International Trade. All summer Mitch, a fellow TFAS intern, and I worked on the STEP Program. STEP, State Trade and Export Promotion, is a program initiated to provide federal funding to state’s small businesses to promote and support international trade, growing the local economy. It was the last job I imagined I would have, but from the moment we walked in the doors, we were put to work and challenged to learn and analyze data. Accompanying our boss to the Russell Senate Building for pre-legislation hearings on the STEP program was the culminating moment of our summer, and working for SBA is an opportunity I’ll always be thankful for. In the past two years, the STEP program has continued to advance, and I still keep in touch with my boss from that summer.
With TFAS, we attended briefings at the Federal Reserve, CIA, and Capitol Hill, went on a tour of the Hungarian Embassy, and heard many lectures by distinguished leaders in their fields. At the Federal Reserve, we were fortunate enough to sit at the table of the Board of Governors. At the CIA, we met senior advisers from the four branches and were given the full CIA experience. And a morning I’ll never forget is when sat on the House Floor at the Capitol.
When I tell people about TFAS, it’s so much more than the interning and classes. The people and the adventures are what truly made this summer memorable. TFAS paired me with three of the best girls for roommates. Much to Sarah (Connecticut) and Claire’s (California) surprise, Demi and I proudly hung the Texas flag in our living room and “introduced” them to Texas culture. We shared so many laughs and had so many grand adventures together. We fell in love with poptarts from Ted’s Bulletin, celebrated 4th of July in the most patriotic way possible, went to Nationals games together, walked two miles to find the best gelato in town, and we made it to the top of the Washington Monument. Over Christmas break, I went to visit friends in Europe, and my first stop was to visit Sarah in Ireland. TFAS is an opportunity to make lifelong friendships.
All summer long, you will be constantly surrounded by greatness. Nothing should stop you from achieving your dreams. Be young, driven, and passionate. DC is yours, and the summer is what you make of it. Make it unforgettable.