Living in Washington DC and being a part of the UCDC program has been an incredible experience. One aspect that I’m definitely taking away from this experience is the sheer amount of possibilities that are potentially open to graduating students. Working in Development was something I never considered or even was aware of, so working in this office and seeing the benefit of what is essentially fundraising in the political world is extremely eye-opening. As for the city and living experience, there was nothing I didn’t enjoy about my time in DC, I loved going to work and walking past think tanks and embassies, and late-night walks when all the museums were closed would lead me to national monuments, the waterfront, or even Roosevelt Island. UCDC and my internship at the American Enterprise Institute also strengthened my career goals. I now know of a much larger variety of work outside of government that still works to strengthen policy and contribute to political discussions. Going directly from undergrad into work at Washington DC seems much more attainable than it did in the past. One of the many highlights of working at the American Enterprise Institute was the high number of relevant scholars interns got to meet and converse with. Some of these scholars I had prior knowledge of, and in addition to the events that could also be held in conjunction with the Brookings Institute right next door, the amount of experience and expertise right in front of me was absolutely incredible. Another highlight was actually working with and around scholars, who while busy, never felt unapproachable and more like actual people, as opposed to the mindset I had coming into my work. While I wasn’t interning at a public service or government organization, I feel that almost any organization in DC will have direct influences on democracy, no matter how subtle. I believe public service and the roles around it are important to work in conjunction with each other. Public servants can’t do everything, and a lot of these outside organizations' role is to perform research that will influence policy and affect the way democracy and our government institutions are run. Washington DC is an incredible place to work and live, I hope to one day return for much longer and for a full-time career, and UCDC has given me the stepping stone to realize that dream. On a final note, UCDC students should take full advantage of living in DC, focusing on their studies and careers should be a top priority, but exploring the city and seeing all it has to offer at all hours of the day and night is also key to utilizing the experience to the fullest.
May 1, 2023