IPJ Student Spotlight

Written by Brooke Cary – Program Advisor, IPJ

Each summer, students stand out because of their eagerness to learn, their dedication to their work and their living embodiment of gratitude, and Rosa Linde Rupert is definitely one of those students.

Rosa is the final stretches of a dual degree in philosophy and politics & economics from Leiden University in the Netherlands. She recently worked for her local radio station and organized a study trip to China where she interviewed the Chinese artist and dissident, Ai Weiwei. At the time of her interview, the artist was still under house arrest. The experience greatly impacted her desire to pursue a career in journalism and left her anxious to do more.

This was all just prior to hearing about TFAS through one of her university professors. After getting to know the program, Rosa decided to spend her summer studying journalism and interning in Washington, DC.

“Especially now, especially here [in D.C.], working at a foreign bureau as a political reporter is very, very exciting,” Rosa said.

This summer, Rosa interned with Al Arabiya, one of the largest Middle Eastern television news networks, regarded as a competitor to Al Jazeera. During her internship, she worked on research for live interviews, video editing projects and getting practice on both sides of the camera. Some of her highlights included attending a White House briefing and several State Department briefings. She also covered breaking news in DC, accompanying correspondents on their live projects and getting to know her supervisors.

“It was a really high-level internship in the sense that it was really challenging and interesting. So, I am really thankful that I got this opportunity through TFAS,” Rosa said. “Also, the skills I learned in the outside activities were also really helpful – like the networking seminar and the mentor breakfasts.”

Rosa had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and the Hirshhorn Museum, which was one of her definite favorites. She loved getting to meet other students from all over the US and felt that she got a better view of the country through her peers.

In the fall, Rosa will begin her Research Master’s degree in Social Sciences through the University of Amsterdam. She also intends to keep her finger on the pulse of political news by working part time as reporter. Rosa looks forward to staying in touch with her peers, colleagues and the mentors she met through TFAS.

“You are really are encouraged–and rightfully so–to go around and learn from others in the same situation, or others that have advanced already and to take their advice,” Rupert said. “I think it’s really valuable.”

For those who are looking to participate in a TFAS program, Rosa offered some of her own advice. “Enjoy it fully,” Rosa said. “Be present and open—also to the other students in the program, because that’s a really useful learning opportunity as well.”

DC Living – You Have Now Entered the Professional Sphere

Written by Liz Hartman – Program Advisor, IBGA

Moving and living in a city can be tough. To help you, here are five important tips I learned from my past summer in DC that helped me excel within my internship, TFAS and my everyday living in DC. Be your best self this summer by following these tips!

Get To Know the People You Work For
You might be working with people that are older, younger or the same age as you. There might be a lot of differences between the two of you, but it is important you listen and get to know who you work for. If your supervisor talks to you about their kids, be engaged and excited. It might not be something that you can relate to, but showing this extra attention and displaying that you care will go a long way with your supervisor.

Fight Mundane Routine
We all know the feeling of coming home from a long day and just wanting to sleep. However, there are just too many opportunities in this city to take advantage of! Go on a run through the national mall, look up extended hours for Smithsonian museums, attend networking events with your office, meet for informational interviews. The possibilities are endless if you have the willpower to fight monotonous routine, and take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities awaiting you in DC.

Have a Prepared Elevator Speech 
There are many unexpected opportunities in DC to run into prominent people. Having an elevator speech prepared can help exponentially when gaining connections and future employment opportunities. Click here for examples and tips on how to write a good elevator speech.

 

Dress to Impress
Whether it be at your internship or out on the weekend, you never know when the opportunity will arise to attend an important networking or social event. Have a professional outfit prepared that you can wear on a whim to be ready for the numerous opportunities that will spring up this summer. Pay attention to the dress codes of different events, and know the differences between smart casual, business casual, and business professional!

Treat Everyone you Meet with Respect The person sitting next to you on the metro may someday be your boss, so it is very important that you treat everyone respectfully. Make an effort to put your best foot forward with everyone you meet. It could open a lot of doors in the future.

Building Mentor Relationships

Written by Grace Lederer – Program Advisor, ICPES

Forming relationships with mentors is an essential career tool. They will serve as a valuable resource throughout your career – offering advice, constructive criticism and insight in your area of interest. Below are some tips on having a beneficial mentor relationship.

Take Time to Prepare
Think about what you want to get out of each mentor meeting before arriving.  Are you seeking advice on etiquette and professionalism?  Do you want to be connected to more professionals in your field?  Do you need them to offer edits on your resume and cover letter?  You want to demonstrate that you value the time your mentor is spending with you.  Thinking about such topics before meeting will save you from answering “Uhhhm…I don’t know” when asked what you hope to get out of the meeting.

Be Positive
Attitude is everything.  Positive individuals often gravitate towards one another.  Never meet up with your mentor and proceed to complain about your workplace the entire time.  Even if you are not enjoying your job or your internship, always frame your update in a positive light, i.e. “I don’t see myself working for this organization after graduation but I have learned some really useful tools while there…”

 

Get Their Story
Ask your mentor how they landed their first job and how they moved onto their second.  According to CNN Money, workers in our generation will change jobs an average of four times before reaching the age of 32.  Learning how to navigate these transitions gracefully is essential—especially since people are more connected than ever.  Never speak poorly of former (or current) employers or burn your bridges when switching jobs.

 

Get the Timing Right
You will want to establish that you have their permission to write them as a reference on job applications and see if they would be comfortable writing you a letter of recommendation in the future.  This is a request best suited for a situation when you and your mentor have met multiple times and have established a trusting relationship.

Pick Brain Mentors
Your mentors don’t have to be people you know in real life!  Study the habits and success stories of figures that you admire—some people that I draw inspiration from are Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Malala Yousafzai, and Dietrich Mateschitz.  Following relevant people from your field also provides you with topics to make small talk about before getting down to business with your mentor.      

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.