Emerson in DC Attracts Doers Ready to Make Study Away a Career-Defining Decision

January 21, 2020 The Washington Center

Emerson in DC Attracts Doers Ready to Make Study Away a Career-Defining Decision

Each fall, 10-20 Emerson College students choose Emerson in DC and its access to real-world opportunities to ignite passions, direct next steps and transform post-college careers.

The Emerson in DC program provides a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on professional experience. Constituting a bridge between the classroom and the professional world, the program provides all the tools and opportunities to make that transition successful. Many Emersonians study in fields related to politics (e.g., electoral campaigning, journalism, public affairs, diplomacy, marketing) and D.C. gives them access to opportunities that are not necessarily available in Boston.

Eleven students ventured from Boston to the nation’s capital this past fall for this exciting, enriching experience. Four of those students shared how their futures have been shaped by the airwaves of C-SPAN, the halls of Congress, the mission in Iraq and the avenues connecting state legislators to national policies.

Emerson Junior Ian Sloan interned with C-SPAN
Emerson Junior Ian Sloan interned with C-SPAN.

Ian Sloan

Junior
Interned with C-SPAN

With the ultimate goal of becoming a political journalist, being in the epicenter of politics was important to Ian. Getting a hands-on experience on the ‘Washington Today’ program was a daily occurrence where he not only worked alongside host and senior executive producer Steve Scully, but he also got the opportunity to record his own stories in the field. Any given day could mean reporting on impeachment hearings, congressional and administration interviews, or protests and ceremonies. Emerson in DC enabled him to improve his journalistic and communications skills, become familiar with editing software and learn political interviewing from a seasoned professional. 

“I really wanted to come to D.C. to see what it was like to immerse myself in a purely political environment. Especially being so close to Capitol Hill, I was able to see politics in action on a realistic level. I wanted to go to D.C. over the other cities that Emerson has programs in because I wanted to be where I knew it was most beneficial to me. Having political journalism ambitions, Washington, D.C. is that place for somebody who is really into politics and wants to report on or to get involved in politics. Even if you don’t get the editorial internship at C-SPAN, there are still plenty of opportunities to go and document things in D.C.”

Emerson Senior Matt Enriquez interned with Representative Ayanna Pressley
Emerson Senior Matt Enriquez interned with Representative Ayanna Pressley.

Matt Enriquez

Senior
Interned with Representative Ayanna Pressley

As a staff intern in a congressional office, Matt played different roles for members of Congresswoman Pressley’s staff. Such exposure meant every day brought something new and shed light on how much there is to do on the Hill. Whether legislative, constituent relations or administrative, the work was always interesting and demanded he exercise his various communication, teamwork, and networking skills. Knowing the variety of staff tasks and responsibilities came in handy when Matt made his legislative presentation to the congresswoman. And the overall experience disclosed just how close citizens are to their government. 

“I originally came to TWC wanting to be a lawyer. I really thought that was what I wanted as a professional. Working on the Hill, I realized that I either already have or am working towards possessing the necessary skills to work on policy and that I wasn’t going to need to go to law school, at least not in the near future. I think that was something that really shaped where I want to go. My direction and purpose is still to make big contributions to education and labor policy, but I see myself doing that through a position on the Hill instead. I see that as an advisory or director of legislation type of job instead of through practicing law.” Read more about Matt's TWC experience here.

Alisha Parikh (middle) with Laura Clancy and Jennie Matuschak
Emerson Senior Alisha Parikh (middle) with Laura Clancy and Jennie Matuschak.

Alisha Parikh 

Senior
Interned with Enabling Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC)

Emerson in DC changed Alisha’s career path “drastically.” Her internship assignment placed her at a small nonprofit that did not have a communications intern, or much of a communications department. In this vacuum, Alisha was able to take on a lot of responsibilities and learn valuable new skills.. Because she enjoyed her work so much, she decided to put law school — which was her plan following finishing school a semester early — on the back burner to actively look for grassroots advocacy jobs in D.C. for a year.

“I’m doing a lot more work than what I think a normal intern in a communications capacity would do. At EPIC I learned how to do a social media audit. I hadn’t done that before. I learned about SEO and I got to come up with a really cool project of creating a timeline that documents EPIC’s work against all the events in Iraq in 1998 to show how EPIC has helped the situation. And I designed that timeline using HTML and Java. I didn’t know how to use those coding languages before, but I now feel adept at it. It is a great thing to have in my toolkit.”

Emerson Senior Chris Henderson-West interned with the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators
Emerson Senior Chris Henderson-West interned with the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

Chris Henderson-West

Senior
Interned with National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL)

Interning in D.C. meant Chris would work with actual policy while placing him into contact with people doing what he wants to do professionally. NHCSL helps state legislators that don’t have legislative teams by, among other things, drafting policy in specific areas. For Chris, that work was done within three of those areas by working on task forces for human civil rights, energy and environmental infrastructure, and broadband and technology. The latter was a subject he did not know much about but had been encouraged by the intern supervisor to take on to expand his horizons. Learning more about tech policy and how it influences everyday actions has him considering tech lobbying and tech policy consulting.

“I knew I wanted to do D.C. Even though my major is in political communications, I don’t feel that we study policy as in depth as how do you communicate it. How do you take something that is complicated and make it easy to understand and the various ways that you can do that. This allowed me to read, look at, and craft, actual policy. That has been the main thing. I want to get into political consulting and lobbying. Going to different events and networking, I’ve been able to meet people and get a better understanding of what I want to do and realize that it is something that I’m good at.”

The Washington Center provides [students] with experiences and opportunities, including professional development initiatives, that would not be possible in Boston.

Dr. Vincent Reynauld, assistant professor and TWC liaison at Emerson College

Emerson College students who complete the semester in D.C. really benefit from their entire D.C. experience. Their involvement in internships and other The Washington Center activities help them establish friendships with fellow Emersonians who also study away at The Washington Center, as well as with fellow students from different universities, and to meet and interact with mentors who will play an important role in their professional development. 

“The quality and the professional relevance of internships is — by far — the most common feedback from Emerson College students who spend a semester in D.C.,” said Dr. Vincent Reynauld, assistant professor and TWC liaison at Emerson College. “Students also point out that The Washington Center provides them with experiences and opportunities, including professional development initiatives, that would not be possible in Boston.” 

Questions about the Emerson in DC program? For more information, contact info@twc.edu. Or, to apply for Fall 2020, visit twc.edu today!

About the Author

The Washington Center

The Washington Center is the largest and most established student internship program in Washington, D.C. Since our founding, we've helped more than 60,000 young people translate their college majors into career paths. We use our scale and expertise to customize each student’s experience to be truly transformative.

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