Intern Spotlight: Gina DeMatteo, Suffolk University

January 24, 2018 The Washington Center

Gina DeMatteo from Suffolk University, interned in Washington, D.C.

Gina talks about her internship at Grant Thornton and how she's used her networking skills to talk to the people who have the jobs she would like to have in the future.  

What is your name?

Gina DeMatteo.

What school are you currently attending?

Suffolk University in Boston.

What is your major?

My major is a little bit different. It’s politics, philosophy and economics -- also known as PPE.

Where are you interning?

Grant Thornton [an accounting and consulting firm which provides advisory services to private companies, public interest groups and public sector entities].

What are some of the responsibilities you have there?

Mostly I work on policy issues, researching things that are relevant to the firm. It’s a tax and policy firm, so I’m on the public policy team. Basically, I go to a lot of Hill meetings, talk with congressmen, and take meetings on tax reform with organizations like Americans for Tax Reform.

Tell us about a project you worked on during your internship that was your favorite, the most challenging, or the most exciting.

Well, one project I have in mind fits all of those. It was about a tax policy issue that’s very relevant to tax reform right now, and it involves pass-through businesses. We had to write some legislative text on a policy and present it to a few select congressmen, pitching our idea to see if they would take it. So far it’s continuing to go really well, but it’s required me to come in before and after work hours, which I’m happy to do because I think I’m making important strides with my company! It’s definitely exciting to meet congressmen; I’ve never been trained in talking to them. I’m watching my boss and I’m copying what he’s doing. But it’s exciting -- challenging too, definitely, but I didn’t think I’d be doing this.

Gina DeMatteo with a colleague
Gina DeMatteo, a senior at Suffolk University, and a fall semester intern for Grant Thornton, pauses for a picture with one of her colleagues.

Have you been able to apply some of your learning from school to your internship?

I think a really important skill I’ve learned in school is how to decipher what’s important and what’s not, and how to make my own judgments from there. At my internship, it translates into researching a topic and having your boss ask you to pull relevant information. This means independent thinking, which is something that, without several classes I’ve taken, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do.

How will you translate your work experience to your studies back at Suffolk University?

Being put into the actual work world has helped me communicate with people outside of my generation, especially with older people. Knowing exactly the style of how to communicate, I feel as though I could apply that back on campus so that I am better prepared to talk to my professors and connect with other students on a different level. It’s important how you communicate what you know. If you can’t, then it doesn’t really matter what information you have if people aren’t able to understand you.

What is the most interesting or unexpected thing you have experienced since you’ve arrived in D.C.?

The willingness of everyone to want to talk to you. We have to conduct informational interviews, which is good because I love talking to people, but I didn’t think anyone would spare me their time. Everyone I've asked has been very accommodating. I know this is a generalization, but in Boston, people don’t usually give you the time of day! Here people love it, and I’m so happy that it’s something that’s part of this city.

How have you expanded your professional network for future career opportunities?

I have been going to as many networking events as possible. I find them on Eventbrite; my boss sends me to some things; The Washington Center sets up a lot of events that we’re allowed to attend. Basically, I just talk to as many people as possible. So far I’ve spoken to someone in economic policy writing at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. I talked to a lady who owns her own lobbying firm. Last night, I talked to the political director of CBS. You know -- reaching out to people, finding their email addresses…I’ve been emailing as many people as possible and then I've been setting up meetings. You just have to be confident about it and go for it.

How has this experience shaped or impacted your career goals?

I want to be a state representative. That’s my end goal. In the process of getting there, I know that I want to do policy work. However, I’ve always had a knack for political journalism. So what I’ve been doing is talking to people who have the future jobs I would want: political director, owning a lobbying firm, tax policy, etcetera. So I guess in my mind, instead of answering questions, this is creating more questions. But I don’t see that as a bad thing -- I’m not pigeonholing myself. Right now, in terms of expanding my career goals, this process is definitely doing that or at least showing me steps to get to the state legislature. I think it’s helping me decide the path I want to take to get to where I want to go. It's not a bad thing to have more questions in the process.

Finally, what advice do you have for other students considering an internship with TWC?

Oh, wow. So much! I would say research the internship extremely well. The most impressive thing I’ve seen is knowing everything about the place you want to work for, and then asking relevant questions at the end of an interview when the interviewer asks you, “Well, do you have any questions?” Have three or four ready that will show you’ve done your research and that you’re interested in the position and site. And definitely, if you’re a senior like myself, look for a place that you could see yourself possibly working at in a year or two. Additionally, never stay home, try to go out or at least talk to people. A lot of it is who you know. What you know is very important, but if you don’t know anyone to tell people what you know, then it doesn’t really matter. So I guess: be prepared for your interviews, get out, don’t be afraid, grab a friend if you’re shy, but just constantly network and get comfortable talking to people.

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 individuals from across the U.S. and around the globe expand their academic pursuits into rewarding jobs and careers. We use our scale and expertise to deliver solutions that open career pathways for learners, solve recruitment challenges for employers, while helping create greater access, equity, advancement and representation.

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