A Summer in D.C.
Last summer, going into my sophomore year, I interned at the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in my hometown. I had never really been involved in this type of advocacy, but I wanted to stay home over the summer, and oddly enough ZCenter was right around the corner from my high school, but I had never heard of it. Finding this internship was really serendipitous, and it opened my eyes to the intricacies of power-based personal violence, sexual assault, and running nonprofit agencies. I was the only rising sophomore surrounded by upperclassmen and masters students, studying things like psychology, social work, and counselling. Being a Public Policy major, my interest in working at ZCenter wasn’t immediately clear, but my approach was that yes, policy change is important, but to even consider entering this macro-level work, you need to understand the material reality of people’s lives, and sexual violence is a real epidemic that affects so many people.
That experience was my first professional internship, and staying in Illinois over the summer with my family was really great, but for this upcoming summer I really wanted to take it to the next level and spend my summer in Washington D.C. I was feeling ambitious, but also intimidated because getting an internship in D.C. is super competitive.
I knew if I wanted to put my best foot forward I needed to go see the Career Center. The Career Center is a resource on campus with trained career coaches that can help you with resumes, interview skills, the internship search, basically preparing you professionally in whatever way you need. As a public policy major, my career coach is Cynthia Washington, who also covers political science, education, psychology, sociology, and anthropology students. Her advice on the process was essential. Cynthia helped me fine tune my resume, work on my LinkedIn networking, and practice interviewing.
Spending the entire summer in D.C. on my own was kind of daunting, but luckily I found VIEW. The Career Center partners with the Office of Active Citizenship and Service (OACS) to support the Vanderbilt Internship Experience in Washington (VIEW) program. VIEW is an eight-week program running from early June to late July where a cohort of Vanderbilt students will live together in D.C. while doing their internships and exploring public service careers and the city together. VIEW provides students with training, support, alumni mentors, and of course, the support of our fearless leader Meagan.
This summer I will be interning in the office of Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois. The process in itself was really interesting, but somehow I made it through and was offered the position in early March. It was so great having my summer plans locked down so early. I will be using my Chancellor’s Scholar stipend to pay for this experience, which is a true blessing because this is an unpaid internship and living in D.C. is very expensive.
I’m excited to see how this will go. Wish me luck as I battle my way through the craziness that is our nation’s capitol! If you have any questions about VIEW, Chancellor’s Scholar stipends, or anything else don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.