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D.C. Program Gets Students Connected

While some Emerson students opt to travel and study liberal arts in Emerson’s study abroad program in the Netherlands and others participate in internships in Los Angeles as part of Emerson’s Los Angeles program, a new group of students is choosing to pursue a variety of internship opportunities in our nation’s capital. Within the last three years, Emerson’s Washington, D.C., program has been gaining momentum and offering students a chance to network within their respective career fields.

Started in the fall of 2007, the Washington, D.C., program at Emerson is an internship-based program that allows students to live and intern in D.C. for a semester. Students study issues, processes, and decisions surrounding government, nonprofit organizations, and social advocacy groups. Since its inception three years ago, the number of participants has grown from 5 to 13.

“The increase in interest in the program has been wonderful. We already have 25 students interested in the Fall 2011 semester, which is already a huge jump from last year.”

“The increase in interest in the program has been wonderful,” says Richard West, Chair of the Communication Studies Department. “We already have 25 students interested in the Fall 2011 semester, which is already a huge jump from last year.”

The Emerson D.C. program, which was initiated by West, is affiliated with the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. This non-profit organization plays host and serves various universities across the country by providing them with the tools and resources for students to study and intern in D.C.

The students who participate in the program typically intern at an organization of their choosing for about 40 hours per week. Students also take an Emerson–specific course taught by Philip Maggi ’93. Classes and seminars are interactive – they encompass various workshops, panel discussions, and even tours of buildings throughout D.C.

This year’s participants are interning at a variety of sites, including the Center for Inspired Teaching, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and even the Peace Corps. Other students have been working for political figures such as Governor Deval Patrick and Senator Russ Feingold.

Caitlin Annand-Baechtel ’11, a Political Communication major, has been interning with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Over the course of the last month, she has undertaken a long-term research project on different suicide prevention initiatives.

“I have been able to do real work for a real organization,” explains Annand-Baechtel. “Unlike a lot of internships where you do office work, I have been put in charge of a major effort my organization is doing. It is partially my job to help facilitate conversation about suicide prevention information between field advocates and congressional representatives across each state. It’s been such an amazing experience.”

The D.C. program is also an effective networking tool for current Emerson students to connect with alumni living and working in Washington, D.C. The program has hosted an alumni event in which current participants met various opinion leaders and influential people within D.C.

“Unlike the L.A. and Kasteel Well programs, this is a much more intimate program that allows for a one-on-one experience with alumni,” stresses West. “We want this to be a networking opportunity for those looking to establish a career in Washington. It is our goal to keep this a small program in order to ensure that all participants get the personal attention they need to succeed in establishing themselves within D.C.”

West says opportunities stemming from the program extend beyond just politics. “Washington, D.C., is the anchor for everything in this country,” he says. “It’s not all about politics. This city is a buzzing global center that houses some of the most important media, news outlets, non-profit organizations, and businesses in the world. Even though the government is a driving force in D.C., it has so much more to offer than just the political arena.”

Annand-Baechtel adds to that notion.“This program is really about connecting you with people and preparing you for becoming a professional,” she says. “It’s not all about politics. D.C. has so much to offer to a variety of Emerson students across different majors. This city is really a different kind of Hollywood.”

The D.C. program is offered during the fall semesters. Students interested in applying to the Washington, D.C., program should note that applications for Fall 2011 are due April 1, 2011.

Visit the Washington Center website »

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