NSCS offers its members numerous benefits relating to travel, lifestyle, and academics. The DC Internships programs sponsored by the Fund for American Studies (TFAS) are some of our most notable academic benefits. These programs allow students to not only learn and grow in classroom and workplace environments, but also to experience the wonders and history of Washington, DC firsthand through community activities and social events. Students are provided furnished DC apartments, placed at a well known company for their internship (based upon their selected program), and enrolled in courses at George Mason University. This opportunity is available during the school year and in the summer. TFAS strives to build and mold students into the future leaders this country needs.
We’re spotlighting Jordan Lopez, an NSCS member who participated in one of the DC Internships programs this past summer. We interviewed Jordan about the impact of the program and his most memorable experiences.
What’s your major?
My major is International Studies, with a focus in National Security and Intelligence.
What made you apply for DC Internships?
I received an email from NSCS titled DC Internships; it seemed interesting so I started doing research and learned what a perfect fit it would be for me. I applied within a couple weeks of seeing the email and was fortunate enough to be selected for the program.
What specific program did you participate in and when?
I participated in their Institute on Economics and International Affairs, one of 7 institutes they offer, during their summer term, June 4 – August 1, 2016.
What made you choose that program?
I chose the specific program because it offered a selection of courses, internships, lectures, and events that coincide with my major. It included some lectures from those intimately connected with foreign policy, economics, and public service in DC and matched me with a great organization to intern with.
Where did you intern during the program?
The program matches you with several internship opportunities; you then interview and, depending on the number of offers, choose yourself which one matches your interests. I was afforded the chance to intern at the office of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who now oversees his non-profit, The Rumsfeld Foundation.
As mentioned before, I am very interested in foreign policy and public service, and while at the Rumsfeld Foundation, I was able to work closely with his staff researching and working on these subjects. DC Internships does a fantastic job of finding out what specific interests you have and is very committed to matching you with an internship that will provide hands-on experience.
During your internship, what were some of your favorite projects?
During my internship I was tasked with some amazing projects. Some included preparing documents to be sent to the Library of Congress for historical record, accompanying Secretary Rumsfeld when conducting media interviews, researching issues related to his foundation’s focus in Central Asia, and attending local DC charity and social events to learn more about current partners and subject matter related to the interests of the office.
In addition to the internship, you took classes at George Mason University. What courses did you take?
While in the program, you live on George Washington University’s campus but take courses at George Mason University. You are required to take one course but are able to take up to three. I took two courses: American Foreign Policy and International Economic Policy. Both were two of my most educational and inspiring courses I have taken in college thus far.
How did you like the environment compared to your current school?
My current environment compared to my time in DC was similar but different in some ways. Both environments are inclusive and well regarded. My experience at DePaul is a more traditional college experience, while in TFAS the environment is a little more hands-on, since there are only about 400 students at a time compared to 14,000 at DePaul. It allowed me to focus on my internship while also continuing to learn in the classroom.
Where did you stay while in the program?
While in the program I stayed in Shenkman Hall, a George Washington University dorm. It was located several blocks from both the National Mall and the White House. Almost all of my classmates’ internships were accessible by public transportation and I was lucky enough to be able to walk to my office. The program provides not only an internship and classroom experience, but gives you a firsthand look at what it’s like to live in DC.
Did you receive any scholarships or awards from the program?
Other than my discount received from NSCS, I was awarded the Regent Scholarship which seven students are selected to receive each year. I also used my GI Bill benefits to help with the cost of the program. The program has an amazing financial aid staff that will work with you to make sure you can attend without any undue burden on you or your family.
What were some of the skills or lessons you took away from your experience?
It is so hard to put into words what lessons and skills I took away from the program. I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at our graduation and what I said then is about as well as I can put it. I learned plenty of valuable skills and lessons that will help me in search of a career, but most importantly I learned more about myself and what I am capable of. The program gave me the confidence I need to continue after college and long into the future.
Would you recommend the DC Internships programs for other students?
I would without a doubt recommend this program to students. It is an unparalleled experience that provides you with the tools you need to be successful not only in your professional life but as a human being. You learn to work as a team, develop your talents to benefit your goals, meet and learn from influential and dedicated people with invaluable life experience, and foster lifelong relationships with people who will stay with you long after the semester is over.
Any advice for future participants?
Advice I would give to future participants would be that this program is not too much to handle and is completely worthwhile. Do not hesitate to apply; I myself did not think I was what they were looking for when I saw some of the universities represented among my fellow interns, but they are looking for the right person, not the right credentials. Please take a look at their website; it is very user-friendly and will answer almost all of your questions, but if not, their staff are dedicated to helping you in any way possible.
Jordan participated in the Economics and International Affairs program, but TFAS offers several others, including Journalism & Communications, Public Policy & Economics, Community Leadership & Service, Business & Government Affairs, and Leadership & the American Presidency. In addition to the internship and coursework, the program also organizes multiple social activities for participants, a BBQ, a Nationals baseball game, tours of DC landmarks, and volunteer opportunities.
Now that you’ve read about Jordan’s experience, it’s your turn to apply! For more information on the admissions process, including scholarships, deadlines, and the application, please visit www.DCinternships.org. To receive the exclusive 5% tuition discount offered to NSCS members, please email Dana Faught at firstname.lastname@example.org and identify yourself as an NSCS member.