Under the Washington D.C. White Lights: Interning in the Capitol

The political science department provides its students with experiences and opportunities that put MU students at a great advantage. One of those is a chance to live, study, and work in the heart of the United States, Washington D.C.,through the Washington Center Internships and Seminars program.

Each semester, the University sends a group of students to D.C. After applying and qualifying for the program, students have an opportunity to pursue their career path by being placed in a site relevant to their desired career field, and are given a chance to experience what it is really like to be in the work force. Students are put to higher levels of business professionalism, leadership, and involvement.

As a senior, this program is the perfect transition from learning theories in the classroom to actually implementing and using what hasbeen taught at the University in our prospective career fields. I discovered what I want to do postgraduation, and started building a network that will hopefully enable me to reach this goal.

By taking part in this program you meet, work, and live with students from different countries around the world that share the same ambitions and are motivated to achieve their professional, academic, and personal goals just as you are.

Regardless of where each student is from, everyone here is tied together by this common goal and motivational force to succeed. Being put in a real work environment teaches you a lot about yourself and how you react or deal with different situations and different personality types, while getting hands on experience in the office. You learn that communication is key, and that assertiveness is a must to succeed. Aside to learning how to live in a city, the work experience that students get here has become a determining factor when employers are considering a candidate.

The shape of the economy is putting our generation at a very tough position. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is as high as 7.8 percent .This leaves recent college graduates at a disadvantage to others that are already in the workforce and have work experience, which is very important for employers.

This semester, there are four students in the Washington Center program; Colleen Kelly, Lauren Rigney, Michael Halwagy, and myself. There is no better place to build a professional network than D.C. As an intern in the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, I have been able to meet and work with a vast group of officials ranging from embassy secretaries to ambassadors. Colleen Kelly, a political science major currently interning at the Sindhi American Political Action Committee, said “The Washington Center has given me a unique experience to work, learn, and have fun in D.C. I am learning so much about myself and what I would like, or not, to do in the future. I am so thankful to Dr. Patten and the political science department for preparing me and helping me apply for the Washington Center.”

Michael Halwagy, a senior political science major, said “This experience has been everything and nothing I could have expected. The entire district eats, sleeps, and breathes politics, and given the election in November, the energy is absolutely electric. I’ve been having a blast here in D.C. Meeting new people, working in the heart of the nation’s capital, and being in the center of such an engaged political atmosphere.

I thank the political science department and Dr. Patten for encouraging me to apply and take on this amazing experience. The Washington Center semester is opening my eyes to the possibilities that a career and degree in politics can offer.” Halwagy is interning at Electionmall Technologies.

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, professor of political science and Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives has helped students over the years succeed in becoming part of the program. “Monmouth University is proud to be associated with The Washington Center. Over the years, the TWC administrators and staff have done a terrific job guiding and caring for our students. I n t urn, o ur s tudents have gained much knowledge and first-hand experience in TWC internships, including prestigious ones at the White House and the U.S. Department of State. Some have even secured important jobs past their graduation. We feel accomplished and joyful when our students fulfill their potential and succeed,” said Sarsar.