Each closing ceremony leaves TFAS students with happy memories of one last gathering of new friends and one final look at life in Washington, D.C. For some students however, the D.C. adventure is only just beginning. Three students from our 2016 Fall Semester Programs found ways to stay in D.C. and squeeze more out of the unique opportunities only Washington can offer.
Audrey Anderson (LTAP-F 16) had already finished her studies at the University of Missouri and was ready to report for duty with the Air Force after the Fall Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) program ended. However, a delayed commission opened up the opportunity to stay on in D.C. and continue her internship at the Rumsfeld Foundation. This allowed her to gain even more real-world, practical work experience before her commission in May of this year.
“I was excited about the program before I came,” Anderson said. “I had only been in D.C. for two days previously and I didn’t know what to expect. That was better, in a way. I enjoyed it more.” She knew before coming that her experience in D.C. and in the TFAS program would hinge on who was joining the program with her. In the end, her classmates were her favorite part of the program.
Anderson particularly enjoyed the Friday LTAP classes, when she and her classmates went on site visits, heard guest speakers, talked about leaders of the past like Jefferson and Lincoln and discussed what they had learned that week – in and out of the classroom, at their internship sites and around town. It was a chance to hear each other’s ideas, let the lessons soak in and make the important connections.
“We talked about our thoughts on how everything related to being a leader,” she said. “And we talked about how we could apply those lessons.” Anderson felt she learned as much from her classmates as from the classes themselves, regarding how to be a leader in every sphere of life.
One TFAS memory she particularly treasures revolved around her classmates and the new bonds they forged in a few short months. Before Thanksgiving, the students gathered together in their dormitory for a Friendsgiving celebration. The gathering provided food and fun, as well as some food for thought.
“At one point,” she said, “everyone was eating and there were 20 different conversations going on. I looked around and thought about how, three months ago, we didn’t even know each other, but now we were thankful to be together.”
Now, the majority of the Fall 2016 students have returned to their universities or homes, so Anderson is working on keeping in touch, as well as learning new lessons and continuing to expand her professional skills through her internship.
“I’m learning about work culture and what it’s like to stay and be consistent,” she said. “I’m enjoying building relationships with my coworkers and learning new ways to help.”
Marisa DiGiuseppe (CSF 16) had nearly finished her political science degree as the University of Miami in Florida before joining the Capital Semester Fall 2016 class and was on track to graduate in December, so her path from an academic opportunity at TFAS to a work opportunity in D.C. was also clear. She applied to the TFAS Capital Semester program on a friend’s recommendation; it seemed to DiGiuseppe like a good opportunity to try the D.C. life.
“It was an adjustment, coming from Miami to D.C.,” she said. “But the energy in D.C. was motivating.” DiGiuseppe also found, to her surprise, her economics classes were motivating her to take an interest in that field of study as never before.
“I was surprised by how much I liked my classes. I never thought I would like economics classes, because I hated them in school.” However, through her TFAS economics course, DiGiuseppe said she realized how necessary it is to understand economic forces – and how common it is for people to form their opinions on economic issues without sufficient knowledge of underlying causes.
DiGiuseppe also felt she gained a lot from the site briefings, particularly the visits to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Embassy of Estonia. The briefing at the UNHCR allowed DiGiuseppe to further her knowledge of refugee issues by putting her face to face with professionals at one of the principal humanitarian organizations working in the field.
“I enjoyed it because I had studied issues facing refugee and migrant populations,” she said. “I’ve also had two previous nonprofit internships working with refugee populations. I liked hearing the perspective of someone working for an agency that addresses the refugee crisis on a larger scale.”
She enjoyed the Embassy of Estonia for the rare, behind-the-scenes opportunities it afforded. She and her classmates were able to meet the ambassador in person, as well as hear from a cybersecurity expert who spoke about current events in Europe and intelligence.
During her TFAS internship with Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office, DiGiuseppe observed and participated in the busy life of the Senate, listening to politicians, business leaders and other stakeholders discuss energy policy and environmental issues. She found she has a particular interest in regulations. She brought her newly developing appreciation for viewing issues through an economic lens to her internship.
“I liked hearing business leaders talk about how bills might impact them and others outside the Hill. I enjoyed seeing how businesses navigate regulations in general.” She credits her time at TFAS and in Washington as instrumental in helping her make the first move down her career path, which is beginning right now at ML Strategies, the government consulting arm of the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
“I couldn’t have gotten this job without my TFAS internship,” she said. Previous internships during college exposed her to private law firms, but her TFAS internship added an extra dimension to her resume. “TFAS gave me the opportunity to gain valuable internship experience on the Hill, working on a number of hot-topic policy issues that helped elevate my job prospects in D.C.”
Yinon Reiss (CSF 16) graduated from Hebrew University in his hometown of Jerusalem before joining TFAS, so he also came to Washington with no obligation to return and finish a program. Although he did not plan to stay in D.C. beyond the semester, when his networking efforts during his time at TFAS yielded a work opportunity, he was willing and able to take the leap.
“I wanted to experience all that D.C. has to offer,” Reiss said. “The museums, the politics, the sports, the night life – but above all, I wanted to meet awesome people. Fortunately, thanks to my experience at TFAS, D.C. exceeded all my expectations!” Some of his favorite memories of his semester were from times he and his classmates were simply spending time together, even if that just involved sitting on the front steps of their dorm and chatting.
During his TFAS semester, Reiss interned at the Hudson Institute, serving as a research assistant to a senior fellow. After the semester finished, he transitioned immediately into working for the Embassy of Israel in Washington, which has him working in a faster-paced environment and shifting his focus to different topics.
He hopes his new position will help him to continue developing his networking skills – he found his current job through networking at social events in the Washington community – as well as his management and strategic thinking abilities. He is excited to see what doors his new position will open in the future, and also to continue his explorations of the city.
“During the semester,” Reiss said, “I realized that D.C. has so much to offer, and that finding a job and extending my stay here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
For more information on our summer and semester programs, please visit www.DCinternships.org.