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.

PA Testimonial – Brooke

Written by Brooke Cary – Program Advisor, Institute on Political Journalism 
Like many of the alumnus who look back on their summer with The Fund for American Studies, my mind is filled with memories of the heartbeat of D.C. Where should I begin?

My summer with the Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ) was filled with fun, friends, so much learning and so much absorbing of the rich history of America and the diversity which makes our nation great.

During my 8 short weeks in D.C., I took an economics class and attended weekly guest lectures from highly qualified professionals in my field. I attended the pre-law symposium, where I heard about some of the real issues that our government was facing with criminal law. As often as I could, I attended the weekly lectures hosted on Capitol Hill, where I was privileged to hear Senator Rand Paul give a lecture on some of the principles which were guiding his decisions. I, along with 200+ other students was able to ask him questions directly about some of the current national issues.

During the weekly guest lecture times, I met the White House correspondent for Fox News, and even met for coffee with some of the other guest lecturers, who had been working in politics or journalism for 30+ years. There was an incredible opportunity to network and learn from other experienced professionals.

My internship was probably my favorite part of the summer. I was assigned to work for an investigative reporter at The New York Times. I’m immensely grateful for the mentor-ship that this internship provided me and have applied so many of the things I learned to my professional work as a freelance reporter, post-graduation from IPJ. My supervisor took me under his wing, and challenged me at the same time. His high expectations and the rapid-fire pace with which we worked drove me to learn everything I could from him. I was learning, growing and taking it all in. Constantly!

Finally, I made connections with friends who live all over the U.S. and the world, from California, to Alabama, New York to Brussels, Czech Republic and Korea. These friends filled my summer with fun and sharpened me as I learned about each of our different backgrounds, ambitions and perspectives.

I was able to experience July 4th in our Nation’s Capital, to attend events on the lawn of the Washington Monument, to peruse the National Gallery of Art or take a peek inside the Library of Congress. The doors were open (and free!) for me to do so. There are also plenty of spots to grab dinner or ice cream with friends, relax by the Potomac River or hang out in Georgetown after a long day of walking the city.

Every weekend, TFAS planned at least one fun social event that we could participate in if we so chose. One of my favorite things was the monument tour, just a day or so after I first arrived. It was incredible to not only get an orientation of the city, but to finish the tour by watching the sun cast its rich pink and blues color on the water by the Jefferson Memorial. I was so hyped about the city I would spend my summer in! The TFAS BBQ and volleyball tournaments were also highlights for me, who certainly capitalized on the opportunity to lose a game of corn-hole and up my defective frisbee game.

I am so perpetually grateful for the experience I had while I was in D.C. and I so look forward to what is in store for the future alumni of TFAS. If you’re considering spending the summer with one of the TFAS programs, you’re in for a crazy, wonderful and tremendously useful experience.

A ‘Thriving’ Summer in Washington, DC – Alumni Profile

Written by Carly Chafey – Coordinator, Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

Coming from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Collin McKone is pursuing degrees in Business Management and Finance at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Collin, who claims, “my ultimate life goal is to help as many people as possible within the limited time I have alive” spent the summer with the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service (IPVS) interning at Thrive DC.

collin3-3Thrive DC is a nonprofit that works to prevent and end homelessness by providing vulnerable people with a wide range of services to help stabilize their lives. Collin saw the potential of the female clients and was inspired to create Goal Seekers, a Motivational Program that creates an opportunity to create and accomplish goals on a weekly basis. Though still new, it has thus far proved to be an effective program.

The Fund for American Studies IPVS Roundtable
Collin was eager to get to spend a few weeks in our nation’s capital and definitely took advantage of everything D.C. has to offer. “The history and value of D.C. has astonished me,” he said. He visited George Washington’s Mount Vernon, kayaked on the Potomac with friends, attended optional TFAS events and lead an IPVS Fundraiser. By the end of his 4 weeks, he definitely earned the award he received as Most Outstanding Student.

For more information on our programs, visit www.DCinternships.org

Balancing Act: Keeping up Without Getting Overwhelmed

Written by Emma Polefko – Program Advisor, IPJ

wake up. metro. work. class. metro. sleep. repeat.

The daily grind can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes it becomes such a routine that you don’t even realize the days have passed, and other times you’re so busy you feel like you can barely keep up. How do you balance it all?

Most of us are overachievers in one way or another. We did, after all, volunteer to give up our summers to intern full time, take classes, and attend countless other events. But, overachievers are only human. And we inevitably need help to balance it all – whether or not we ask for help is another blog post for another day. Without having to ask, here are some tips and tricks to keep everything in balance. Even if you’ve heard them or read them before, they bear repeating.

Planning.

Buy a planner or utilize the calendar on your phone or email. They are quite helpful. There’s something to be said about rote learning, and the nice thing about technology is that it can send you reminders – even for little things like picking up your drying cleaning or writing a blog post.

That said…

Put down your phone.

Constant interruptions make it harder to accomplish your tasks in a timely fashion. Do yourself a favor and put your phone down. Snapchat, social media, news blasts, sports updates and texts can all wait. The more focused you are on the task at hand, the easier your life will be.

Books before bed.

Between working, commuting, watching another episode of your favorite show on Netflix, staying in touch with friends, and keeping up with the news, we all stare at our screens far too much. Here’s an interesting concept: read a book before bed. Something that is so simple and obvious that is forgotten too often. It’s easier on the eyes, and it’s a nice break for the brain (depending on what you’re reading). Develop a better vocabulary, learn something new, start a great conversation.

Netflix.

Beware of the black hole that is Netflix. During finals one year, I watched a whole season of Scandal. That’s almost 24 hours. Those 24 hours could have easily been put to use in a much more productive way.

Good company.

Call home (or FaceTime). Write a letter to a friend. Eat dinner with friends. We’re all busy and we all get tired, but sometimes good company is all you need. Be present (read: put down your phone, again). Be grateful and enjoy the little things.

Make time for things you enjoy.

Go to your favorite museum and stare at your favorite painting. Take time to go on a run or do yoga. Go sit in your favorite park or on the National Mall. Call a friend. Try new food. Go grab a cupcake or gelato. Drink a cup of coffee because you like the taste of it, not because you need an energy boost. Take care of yourself, and everything else will fall into place.