Written by Rachel Meltzer – 2016 Program Advisor, Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems
Washington, DC is a place like no other. Filled with history, ambitious interns, young professionals, important people, and the opportunity of the ‘American Dream,’ it’s perfect for a summer jam-packed with excitement. For the political science major, it brings goose bumps to the skin – even in 98 degree weather with 67 percent humidity – because walking past the White House on the way to work every day will never get old. The Smithsonian provides Washingtonians with free access to 17 world-class museums and gardens. It’s easily maneuvered layout and timely metro system makes it an easy place to love, not to mention walking past massive historical monuments every other block. Aside from the heat, there’s so much to love about a summer in DC.
Through The Fund for American Studies, I attended the Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) which included a theoretical based economics course, a thirty-hour internship, and countless opportunities to attend forums, briefings and important government offices. I had the privilege of sitting on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, bowling at the White House, sitting in Janet Yellen’s chair at the Federal Reserve, volunteering for community gardens, seeing the 4th of July fireworks from the U.S. Capitol, and numerous other exciting events.
My economics class was amazing. Not only did we go over the Austrian School’s theories and practicalities, but we also talked extensively about justification of these ideas. My professor, Chris Coyne, made the class so interesting. With both lecture components and discussion based periods, Prof. Coyne made sure to get the class to participate and grasp a well-rounded understanding of Free Market Economics. My favorite part of the class was his refutes of critiques. He would always note the opposing views from other schools of economics and provide a justification of why the Austrian School was actually correct and why it is the most widely used school of thought.
Working in the District was exhilarating and fast paced. I had the pleasure of interning for a nonprofit organization, The National Campus Leadership Council, advocating for higher education and student governments on the federal level. We had the honor of working with the White House, Generation Progress, and Young Invincibles to help provide students and legislators with the materials they need to work on issues such as sexual assault prevention, mental health, and college affordability. I had the chance to connect with student body presidents across the country and learn about what they’re doing on their campuses while connecting them with other students across the country so they can build their own network. These skills along with so many others are things that I could only learn by hands on involvement and they will definitely be useful for my future career.
The summer of 2015 changed my life and perspectives in so many ways. Washington, DC provides a great place to find your path. I always find that practical experience and stepping just outside your comfort zone is the best education.