Editor’s note: This article was originally published by The Washington Center, Emerson’s DC-based partner organization. TWC’s Mariel Shilling will be visiting Emerson’s campus Tuesday, January 28, and meeting with interested students for a lunchtime conversation, 12-12:30 pm, in the Walker 9th-floor lobby.
Each fall,10 to 20 Emerson College students choose the Emerson DC Program 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.
Junior, Interned with C-SPAN
With the ultimate goal of becoming a political journalist, being in the epicenter of politics was important to Sloan. 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.”
Senior, Interned with U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts)
As a staff intern in a congressional office, Enriquez 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 Enriquez 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.
Alisha Parikh ’19
Senior, Interned with Enabling Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC)
Emerson in DC changed Parikh’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, Parikh 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.”
Senior, Interned with National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL)
Interning in D.C. meant Henderson-West 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 Henderson-West, 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.”