Internship at Advocacy Group Provides Connections and Confidence

January 19, 2021 The Washington Center

University of Mississippi senior Kellie Jackson talks about how her TWC internship with a non-profit advocacy group gave her the connections and confidence she’ll need to land a job after college.

University of Southern Mississippi student Kellie Jackson spent a semester doing a virtual internship with RetireSafe, a non-profit that advocates for the health of senior citizens. She shares how her TWC experience prepared her for life after college.

Why did you choose an internship through The Washington Center (TWC) over other opportunities?
I believe the most impactful learning takes place outside of the traditional classroom setting. I really wanted to be able to work in a professional setting that focused on healthcare policy in order to gain a better understanding of the field and guide my next steps after graduation. 

I was most excited by the level of support that TWC offered me. Not only did they assist in the internship matching process, but they were also available for career advising, resumé critique and tips for networking in a virtual setting.

The best thing about TWC is that it connected me to other young professionals in a variety of fields and it introduced me to areas of interest that I had never heard of before. At its core, a semester with TWC opens you up to engage with people and professions that you may have never been exposed to otherwise.

You were a communications intern with RetireSafe, which advocates on issues related to older Americans such as healthcare, social security and Medicare. What were your responsibilities, and what did a typical day look like?
7:30 a.m.:
Check our social media accounts for new likes, retweets and data on the number of people reached through social media posts

8:00 a.m.:  Morning Zoom meeting with three other interns and our supervisor

8:30 a.m.: Head to Mulvi’s Coffee Company or the library to work on projects until 12:30 p.m. 

1:00 p.m.: Attend a webinar related to a relevant healthcare issue. (Don’t hate on a webinar! You often have access to some pretty fascinating people that you may not have been able to see otherwise. For instance, I got to see Dr. Anthony Fauci present on the importance of receiving flu vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. #starstruck)

2:00 p.m.: Work on additional projects from home until 3:30 p.m. and prepare for tomorrow’s workday. Recently, I launched the RetireSafe blog where I post lifestyle-based resources, book recommendations and anecdotal stories for our members to enjoy.

The best thing about TWC is that it connected me to other young professionals in a variety of fields and it introduced me to areas of interest that I had never heard of before. At its core, a semester with TWC opens you up to engage with people and professions that you may have never been exposed to otherwise.

Kellie Jackson

What’s your best tip for remote work? 
My advice is to create some sort of routine for yourself in order to stay focused and work efficiently throughout the day. For example, on Monday mornings, I worked from the cozy emerald chairs of my favorite coffee shop, Mulvi’s Coffee Company, while my Tuesday afternoons were typically spent working at the quiet (and free!) public library downtown. 

What’s been your proudest accomplishment during your internship?
My proudest accomplishment was the video I produced on surprise medical billing. The video explained what it is, who it hurts and how every American can get involved in the debate. 

I’ll also share the time I felt the proudest of myself. It was when I was in a board meeting over Zoom and I provided feedback on how we could improve as an organization. To see the other board members nodding their heads in agreement, for me, validated that my ideas are worthy of being shared and that I can play an active role in contributing to the workplace at every stage of my professional career.

In your own words, what’s the number one thing current students need to do in order to be successful after college?
They should branch out beyond their comfort zone. For some, this may be living in Washington, D.C. for a few months. For others, it may be learning how to work virtually or investing in an organization and a population that you previously knew very little about. Experiential learning is the best way to discover what you’re made of and how you’ll apply the skills you learned to the rest of your life.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from this program? 
The most valuable lessons that I learned were taught to me by the people that I have met through TWC. Whether it was through the relationships formed with my fellow interns at RetireSafe, my U.S. Foreign Policy classmates, the working professionals in my network and the other interns at TWC, I  learned that everyone has a story that is worth sharing, and each of us must be willing and ready to listen.

Let The Washington Center Help

Internships are one of the best ways to learn more about your industry, get hands-on experience under your belt and build a well-rounded skill set. Many of our offerings now have remote work options, meaning you can take advantage of even more opportunities and you’ll add a whole new set of “working from home” skills to your resume. 

We partner with more than 400 internship sites around the country, and will work closely with you to find the internship that best aligns with your career goals and interests. 

Want to figure out which TWC program is the best fit for you? Take our quiz!

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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