Written by Holly Focareto – Program Advisor, Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA)
Growing up in a military family, I found a passion for national defense that led me to my degree, where I grew my passion and gained a love for international affairs. After spending one summer studying abroad in Ireland and Morocco, I knew I wanted to spend a summer interning. I always wanted to visit Washington, DC and when I found about the incredible opportunities TFAS offered to intern in DC I was so excited. The program is amazing because of all the opportunities and experiences they offer.
Through TFAS and the Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA), I interned at the National Defense University, The Dwight D. Eisenhower School, where I developed friendships and learned life lessons from an incredible supervisor. I conducted in-depth research and helped prep classes for the upcoming classes that included Air Force colonels, CIA agents, and foreign military leaders. It was especially awarding for me to see materials I worked hard on over the summer to be incorporated into the incredible classes. My fellow interns (many from IEIA) became a small family and went on many adventures together around Fort McNair and DC. I had a supportive supervisor who challenged me and helped me grow my professional profile. He worked for the Department of Homeland Security and always tried to provide me opportunities to meet new people and enjoy DC life, including taking me for a briefing at DHS
Headquarters. He was always open to questions and gave me advice that helped me not only for my summer in DC but in my life since then. It was also fun to watch all the helicopters and ospreys that would land right in front of our building throughout the summer.
At first, I was so excited for the internship component of IEIA, but I soon realized there was so much more. The academic focus of the program is hard to beat. The International Economic Policy was one of the best classes that I have ever taken. It challenged me to look at the world through a new lens. I also really enjoyed the Foreign Policy Symposium that TFAS hosted at George Mason University. It brought people from various backgrounds discussing various issues. The panels were awesome and I learned a lot. I loved sitting there and just listening to the speakers and the well thought out questions my fellow peers asked.
Now, of course, I had plenty of fun during my summer in DC. It was my first time in the city, so I tried to do as much as possible including going to museums, trying all the different restaurants, walking down the National Mall, and finding the best cupcake shop. My favorite moment was when a few of my friends and I biked from Georgetown to the Capitol Building and back to GW. We just went exploring and it started getting dark. The mall is incredible when all the lights come, and biking by all national monuments, the Capitol and the White House was an experience I will never forget. It was just a spur of the moment thing, but it was one of the most memorable moments of the summer.
Overall, this program is amazing and provides so many opportunities to meet people and grow your professionalism. My favorite part was building connections with peers and mentors through all the opportunities that it provided. There is so much you can do through the program and it goes by fast, so take advantage of every opportunity.