PA Testimonial – John (IBGA)

Written by John Foulkes – Program Advisor, Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA)

Growing up I loved reading about history. Learning about the Romans or the Ottomans, about revolutionaries and freedom fighters, really stirred my imagination on the effects people can have on the world. Eventually, this led me in high school to start reading about international relations and current affairs, and I haven’t looked back since.

 

Perhaps inevitably, this passion brought me to DC last summer, as a student with The Fund for American Studies’ Institute on Economics and International Affairs program. The program drew me in through its unique premise which seemed like the best option for me to learn about world affairs, both in the classroom and in the office, and launch the international career I have always wanted. From Washington, the world’s sole superpower conducts its foreign policies. It is also where Andrew Jackson beat a would-be assassin half to death with his cane, Teddy Roosevelt swam in the Potomac every day, and JFK asked us to do what we could for the country.

This might have been my favorite aspect of coming to DC. On the way to my internship every morning, I’d follow Pennsylvania Avenue and see the White House. Some of my favorite memories of last summer came from walking around the historic city to museums and monuments with the great friends I made. You really can’t beat the National Mall for its Smithsonian Museums and national monuments. I loved going to the Sculpture Garden for Jazz in the Garden every Friday, as well as visiting the new African American Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and more. Not to mention, you haven’t lived until you watch the sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial. And this doesn’t begin to describe how amazing it is to work in the city.

I had the pleasure of having two internships this past summer. Arriving in DC I was working with the Free Russia Foundation, an organization of Russian expats working to highlight the human rights abuses of the Putin regime, and his danger to free elections and world stability. Working to bring attention to these important issues alongside my boss was a true pleasure. Since the Free Russia Foundation lacked an office, I worked remotely at the time, and so took the opportunity to join the Jamestown Foundation as their Global Security Intern. Jamestown works to inform the public and policymakers about societies that are strategically important to the US and which restrict access to information. I had the opportunity to analyze global events and organize meetings of foreign policy experts to discuss these issues. Both of these experiences were a true pleasure.

 

TFAS gives you the chance to learn at George Mason University as well as work in Washington. My favorite class was American Foreign Policy with Dr. Gary Armstrong. This is a great class on the strains of foreign policy thought in the United States and the current struggles the country faces internationally. Dr. Armstrong leads the class expertly and guided the class through complex ideas and problems.

Overall, TFAS was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I met amazing professors and DC professionals, made some lifelong friends and had the experience of a lifetime. I highly encourage everyone coming to this year’s summer program to make new friends and explore the city! Also, make the effort to connect with professionals at your internship site, I still contact the employees I worked with and it is very rewarding. You could not have made a better choice on how to spend your summer, and I am excited to meet everyone!

PA Testimonial – Holly (IEIA)

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.

PA Testimonial – Kylee (IPJ)

Written by Kylee Zempel – Program Advisor, Institute on Political Journalism 

As one of the most indecisive people in the world, I vividly remember only twice deciding on things I knew for sure I wanted: broadcasting and Washington. The first occurred while I watched coverage of a Presidential debate, hearing the moderators and thinking, I want to do that. The second occurred during my summer in Washington, DC, with TFAS. Late one night, I stood on the steps of the Capitol looking out over the National Mall—the White House visible to my right, the Washington Monument glowing tall in front of me, the World War II Memorial, Lincoln, and the Potomac far in the distance. I had never been so sure of something in all my life.

 

Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, I never dreamed I would one day live and work in Washington, DC. My Junior year of college, I interned for Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, and I realized I wanted to continue gaining professional skills through another internship. I began searching for internships in Washington, but I felt intimidated and completely unqualified for everything I found—until somebody recommended The Fund for American Studies.

The Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ) seemed almost too good to be true. An aspiring television broadcaster and political commentator, my placement at Radio America proved to be a perfect fit. At my internship, I had the opportunity to work on an economic radio story that included research, radio interviews, radio and TV script writing, audio and video editing, experience with a green screen and teleprompter, and real television stand-up experience. While all internships are valuable, Radio America provided me with more than simply a line item on my resume. I walked away from that internship with real experience and a working portfolio!

In addition to my internship, I loved my Economic Problems and Public Policy class at George Mason. My professor knew the material inside and out and regularly added comic relief. I left that class with a better understanding of important issues facing our country, and the class challenged my perspective in ways I didn’t think it would concerning topics like terrorism and protectionism. I also learned valuable practical skills by attending many of the Professional Development seminars TFAS offered.

My favorite part of the TFAS program is the doors it opens for students that extend beyond their internships and summer experiences. Beyond entering an alumni network of over 16,000 people, TFAS presents its students with job opportunities, continued professional development assistance, alumni activities, and more. Thanks to TFAS, since last summer, I have had the opportunity to return to Washington to participate in two TFAS-related events—the 50th Anniversary Gala and a co-sponsored “Liberty and Equality” seminar—both of which were excellent!

But TFAS students don’t always dress in business professional. Other fun summer activities included playing sand volleyball by the Lincoln Memorial, kayaking on the Potomac River, and visiting Mount Vernon. One of my favorite events was the TFAS BBQ. At that event, I met the people who would become some of my closest friends from the summer! We topped off the BBQ with a stop at Captain Cookie and the Milkman (one of my favorite DC treat stops), and the rest is history! TFAS is a great place to meet people who will become your best friends and impact your life in unexpected ways. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a summer than in Washington, DC, with The Fund for American Studies!

 

 

PA Testimonial – Reim

Written by Reim Alian – Program Advisor, Institute on Economics and International Affairs 

Growing up in a small town in Connecticut where the graduating classes were at most 60 students and small businesses scarcely lined Main Street, I yearned for the taste of the fast paced city life. Providence, Rhode Island where I attended college kept me pacified but did not completely satisfy my craving. It wasn’t until I spent eight weeks nestled in the heart of Washington D.C. did I finally feel full.

The city became less intimidating as each day passed. The busy morning commute to my internship became second nature as I scurried through the bustling Foggy Bottom Metro Station unfazed, in heels, with a coffee and bagel in hand, all while on the phone with my mom.

I spent eight weeks crammed in Suite 200 at 1001 Connecticut Avenue with eight other interns, passing around coffee pots and legal documents. Suite 200 is home to Americans For Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, an accredited non-governmental organization that promotes democracy and reform in Bahrain and other gulf states, all while raising awareness of human rights violations and abuses. ADHRB staff support and advocate for human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists by collaborating with other entities in Bahrain, the Middle East, the European Union and the United States.

As an intern, I translated documents, live tweeted segments of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and examined several accounts of human rights violations. While at ADHRB, I published two online articles regarding UAE Cybersecurity Laws and Bahraini political prisoners. In addition, I researched and drafted sections of The Shia Discrimination Report in Saudi Arabia that was published in 2016.

When I wasn’t sitting at my ADHRB desk, or in the lecture hall at George Mason University, I was scaling the historic streets, watching the sunset from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, and indulging in red velvet cupcakes and caramel cappuccinos, sitting in one cozy café at a time. And when I wasn’t eating cupcakes, I was attending rallies and keeping up with the news, as it was happening. I witnessed the potency of democracy when Democratic Representatives occupied the House floor demanding gun control reform and as the chants of “this is what democracy looks like” lingered through the thick June air.

The Fund For American Studies eminently affected my personal and professional development; and in eight short weeks, my understanding for international relations was transformed as I listened to the narratives of celebrated lecturers, such as Mr. Arthur Laffer of the Reagan Administration and as I learned about the detriments of poor economic policies and their disadvantaging effects on the Global South.

As my plane began to ascend, leaving The District behind, drowning in fiery sunset hues, I could not help but feel thankful for an incredible summer filled with challenge, growth, and opportunity. I closed my eyes thinking of when I would be able to return back home, back to D.C.

PA Testimonial – Liz

Written by Liz Hartman – Program Advisor, Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA)

Months after completing the TFAS program, I look back and am still amazed at my summer in DC. My journey began like many others, not knowing what I was getting myself into, but I am so glad that I took the leap from  Oregon to attend the Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA).

Through my internship at the Hohlt Group, I adapted quickly to the professional world. This was not an internship where I merely made coffee or copied papers, I was working on projects for clients and it was thrilling. The work experience I gained was remarkable and just one of the many incredible aspects about my summer.

TFAS gives interns access to high caliber events that would never be possible otherwise. I was able to attend networking opportunities all over DC, lectures given by Senator Rand Paul, Judge Napolitano, and others through the Capitol Hill Lecture Series, leadership seminars and more. The institute site visits were unbelievable. We attended briefings at different sites every week, including Bloomberg Government, AEI and Caterpillar. I was also selected to speak at the Congressional Scholarship Awards Dinner, an event honoring Congressmen and private sector leaders. This was an incredible privilege and one I will never forget. The connections TFAS provides are vital to breaking into the DC circle. The contacts I’ve made have helped me to this day.

I had the pleasure of becoming lifelong friends with some of the most accomplished people from all over the United States. Together, we took DC by storm – networking our way through the capitol or attending Jazz in the sculpture garden. I have so many amazing memories from my summer all of them involve the incredible people that I met – all thanks to TFAS.

TFAS connects you with friends, mentors, and professionals in DC and beyond. The TFAS alums go out of their way to have coffee with anyone who asks. That network speaks for itself, and tells you the kind of leaders who attend this program. When you join TFAS, you are joining a group whose goal is to help others as they have been helped before. That is what makes this organization so special.

I still look back on my summer in DC and am impressed by all of the invaluable opportunities I was given. Get ready for one of the biggest whirlwind summers of your life. Push yourself to get the most out of this amazing experience because the opportunities are there, it is up to you to embrace it.

PA Testimonial – Grace

Written by Grace Lederer –  Program Advisor, Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES)

The opportunity to be a TFAS program participant fell into my lap last year just a few days before the application’s priority deadline.  An email with the subject headline “Intern in DC this Summer” sent by Saint Leo University’s honors program caught my eye and I was immediately interested in the program.  I applied and was thrilled to find out that I was accepted into the Engalitcheff Institute of Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES).  Although I had no idea what kind of internship I should expect, I trusted in TFAS to lead the way.

I had spent the previous summer interning at Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza, a tropical research institute in Costa Rica.  When the ICPES Program Director called and said that she had gotten me an interview with the United States Department of Agriculture, I thought it was the perfect fit and I could not have been more excited.  I was slightly worried that I did not know enough about engineering to be in the USDA’s Water Infrastructure Sector, but once on the job, I quickly realized that I was able to make meaningful contributions in my workplace by writing development strategies for water projects, coordinating conferences, and managing the USDA_RD social media platforms.

I loved everything about my workplace, particularly the setting.  Its close proximity to Capitol Hill allowed me the flexibility to attend what turned out to be one of my favorite TFAS events of the summer—a Lecture Series titled “Free Markets, Individual Liberty, and Civil Society.”  My attendance at the first optional speaker was based purely off the lure of a free meal, but I quickly found how intellectually stimulating it is to attend speakers that I may not have thought I would have any interest in on the surface.  I thoroughly enjoyed broadening my views and hearing the viewpoints and experiences of legal experts and business executives.

The best part of the academic experience with TFAS was how relevant the lessons I had in the classroom were to the current events that were unfolding in our country.  My ECON 309 “Economic Problems and Public Policies” class at George Mason addressed hotly debated policy issues that had become central to the ongoing presidential election.  It seemed that each day I had a lesson or a guest speaker, I would come home to find the topic trending as a national news headline. 

Out of all the amazing experiences that TFAS afforded me, being able to end my days by coming back to an apartment building filled with friends made it that much better.  It was so refreshing to be surrounded by driven young people who shared my passions and we made countless memories exploring the city together.  I still keep in touch with my roommates and neighbors and I think the network we built with each other will be just as valuable as the professional networks that we created in the years to come.

 

PA Testimonial – Chase

Written by Chase Forrester – Program Advisor, Leadership and the American Presidency

This time last year, I was finalizing the details of my internship placement and preparing to spend my summer in the nation’s capital as a part of the inaugural class of the Leadership and The American Presidency Program – I can still remember just how difficult it was to put my excitement into words. As much as I hate to admit, I had never been to Washington, DC prior to this experience. So, at the time, the idea of completely emerging myself into the busiest political arena in the United States for two whole months was almost unimaginable. On top of all of the excitement, I was nervous about using the metro, slightly confused as to whether or not the majority of my wardrobe would be considered ”too professional”, and even a little uneasy about living in a city where I did not know a single person. Nevertheless, I arrived to DC on move-in day and was indescribably eager to begin what I knew would be the summer of a lifetime.

My internship placement was with Americans United For Life (AUL), a Nonprofit Organization known for playing a fundamental role in every aspect of defending human life. Throughout my time working for AUL, my supervisor challenged my fellow interns and me with several new tasks and ideas on a daily basis, all while giving us numerous opportunities to network and participate. Having the opportunity to work for this professional organization was not only educational, but also incredibly inspiring.

However, the chance to learn and grow as a young professional did not stop once I left the doors of AUL each day. The staff of the Fund for American Studies planned countless activities and learning opportunities for all of its students, and they always made sure that each of us benefited from the experience in the best way possible. For me, the most memorable academic opportunity of the entire summer was attending a Criminal Law Symposium held at George Mason University. Lawyers from all over the country attended this symposium and, after an extremely informative question-and-answer session between them and the students, I was able to meet several of them to discuss my plans in obtaining a law degree in the future. Needless to say, this was one of the several opportunities that I otherwise would have not had if it had not been for TFAS and the Leadership and the American Presidency Program.

As a matter of fact, I knew only after the first few days that participating in this program would impact my life in ways that I never would have expected it to. It was through this program that I realized not only was I capable of navigating the metro system like a pro and successfully dressing in either business-casual or business professional attire on a daily basis, but I could also become the best, most confident version of myself all while professionally living, learning and interning in Washington, DC.

From the first official day of the program until the last, I woke up every morning ready to work my hardest and benefit from every possible opportunity, and the Fund for American Studies gave me the chance to do that and more. Without a doubt, participating in this exceptional program was the best experience of my life- and I knew as soon as I left DC that I would do anything to return and be a part of the TFAS family again.