NSCS offers its members numerous benefits relating to travel, lifestyle, and academics. The DC Internships programs sponsored by the Fund for American Studies (TFAS), is one of our most notable academic benefits. This program allows 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, government agency or nonprofit 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.
Today we spotlight Jack Willett, an NSCS member that has participated in the DC Internship program this past summer. We interviewed Jack about the impact of the program, and his most memorable experiences.
How was NSCS able to help you gain this opportunity?
NSCS alerted me about the opportunity to apply to the DC Internships summer program through their community email. I researched the program, and it looked like a great opportunity considering my skills and passions. Without NSCS, it’s possible I would have never heard about the DC Internships program, and my career path could be totally different than it is today. The DC Internships program also offered a discount for NSCS members which motivated me even further to apply for the program. My membership to NSCS was crucial in my application as well as financing the program.
What was the best part of your internship?
The best part of my internship was constantly analyzing and researching political issues. I’ve always watched the news and followed current events, but I have never truly been exposed to how amazing and complex our government is. I came to work every day excited and ready to see what was going on and why. It was so fulfilling because each issue and each piece of legislation was affecting millions of people. It’s a cliché sentiment, but when you’re doing the work that you enjoy and find exciting, it becomes much more fulfilling. My internship was intense, but the work was great, and I feel like I gained so many personal and professional skills by being pushed to excel.
What was the most important thing you took away from your internship?
The most important take-a-way for me was to limit your ego and do everything you can to help the team. It’s hard to have your work criticized, and it is a very natural instinct to feel upset, but the lesson I learned is that your work being critiqued is not an attack on you personally. Moreover, if you take criticism the right way, you can produce much better work the next day.
What was the most valuable piece of advice you learned while in DC?
The best piece of advice I gained was to be genuine when networking. That means, don’t network just to network, but meet people you like and attempt to learn from them. I think too many interns have a weird view of networking as this pursuit of getting business cards and using people for your own self-interest. But real networking is simply creating relationships with people you admire and find interesting. I was fortunate to meet at least four people I really liked, and I hit it off with; and that’s where you have to start. Build small and really strive to create a network of people you care about.
What was your favorite class? Most valuable thing you learned in class?
The class I took this past summer was actually my favorite class I’ve ever taken in my entire life. I’ve never enjoyed a class as much as Chris Coyne’s Public Policy and Economics course this summer. It completely changed my world view and provided me a really good intellectual starting point for my career. Because of that class, George Mason Economic grad school would become my number one option if I was to ever pursue graduate school. The course really pushed me to open my mind, use my own creativity, and apply it to politics.
What was your favorite part of your summer with TFAS?
After the course, my favorite part of the summer was living in Washington DC. I’ve never really been to D.C. before I moved there, and it is a phenomenal city. I love history and politics, and Washington is really built on those two ideas. I’ll never forget the first morning I was there, I woke up early and went on a walk down to the Lincoln Memorial. It was beautiful and quiet (before the tourists came during the day,) and it was at that very moment that I knew I was living my dream. I spent the weekends walking around the city, the monuments, and the Potomac, so I’m desperate to return. I live right outside of New York City; I have been to Barcelona, Los Angeles, Seattle, and many other cities, but Washington, DC, more than any other city in the world, has caught my heart.
Now that you’ve read about Jack’s experience, it’s your turn to apply! For more information on the admissions process, including scholarships, deadlines, and the application process, please visit www.DCinternships.org. To receive the exclusive five percent tuition discount offered to NSCS members, please email Dana Faught at email@example.com and identify yourself as an NSCS scholar.