Choose Your Track, Part II: Strategic Communication

(Note: Last month, we posted the first of a two-part blog series on the ASP Study Tracks. Read about the Public Policy Track here. Continue to read below for the second post of the series.)

Students in the Strategic Communication Track are on the forefront of the converging fields of public relations and marketing communication. In addition to discussion-style class lectures, our students gain first-hand experience through DC-based fieldwork activities and client work. We compare how different types of national organizations— such as private companies, global non-profits, government agencies, and congressional offices— develop strategic goals and objectives, choose appropriate communication channels and tactics, and measure the impact of their work.

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Students directly engage with these organizations and the communication professionals who work in them to gain first-hand exposure to the best communication practices through formative research, strategic planning, message formation and storytelling, and more. Students explore these learning objectives further in their communications internships. Recent internship sites have included multiple House and Senate offices, The ONE Campaign, the Clapham Group, National Immigration Forum, the Borenstein Group, the American Enterprise Institute, Philanthropy Magazine, and even the business development department of the Washington Redskins!

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Group presentations on how a client organization could effectively respond to a possible crisis scenario.

In our “Advocacy and Development” course, we work collaboratively in small teams for a real-world client to research and propose a communications plan. Previous clients have included Bread for the World and the Accord Network. In “Case Studies in Strategic Communication,” students design two graduate school-style case studies, both supported by original interviews and research. This semester, the first case study—a group exercise— focused on the immigration debate in light of the 2016 Presidential Election. By interviewing four different organizations who are stakeholders in this issue, we compared how different organizations practice strategic communication in a crisis and the processes they use to document and respond to lessons learned from the experience. In our second case study—an individual project— each student focuses on a specific communication situation at their internship office or organization.

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The students hear from the public relations and social media team at Honest Tea.

In addition to our communication proposals and case studies, we also discuss and explore how biblical teachings inform our use of strategic communication, primarily through conversations with Christian professionals who excel both in the quality of their work and in the “faithful practice” of their jobs.

If you are a major in Communication, Public Relations, Business Administration, International Business, or Marketing, we encourage you to consider joining this study track! To learn more, click here.

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The Strategic Communication students met Austin Graff (front right), a Talent Acquisition & Branding Specialist at The Washington Post.

See below for more pictures of the Strategic Communication Track at work, both in the classroom and in the field.

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The Strategic Communication Track joins the Public Policy students for a briefing at the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Sharlene Oong (Messiah College) presents her research on a communication plan used by her internship site, The Clapham Group.

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For more information on the immigration debate, the students hear from Dr. Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Research Center.

Internship Spotlight II {Spring 2017}

Andrew Ramirez, Olivet Nazarene University

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Andrew is pursuing his passion for federal law enforcement with an internship at the U.S. Department of Treasury. 

I have the honor of interning in the Office of Enterprise Business Solutions (EBS) at the U.S. Department of Treasury. This office deals with the creation of website products, development, and data analytics. Because of the sensitive nature of my work, I actually can’t share specific details about it with anyone outside of my department! But I can say this— I am learning how to balance a serious workload and how to perform under the pressure of the professional world. Two highlights of my internship have been: First, I get to regularly meet with high-ranking officials from all across the Treasury, including individuals in financial crimes and terrorism; I even met the Secretary of the Treasury and shook his hand! Second, as an intern at the Treasury Department, I have access to the Main Treasury building which means I get to walk the historic golden hall where Hamilton once walked (presumably) and I get to be surrounded everyday by the amazing history of our country at work. And if those weren’t enough, I also have access to the west side of the White House and can walk that side of the lawn in the morning before work!

Mariana Diaz, Fresno Pacific University

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Mariana (left) enjoys hands-on experience with immigration advocacy at the NIF.

This semester, I am interning at the National Immigration Forum. The Forum advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to our nation. Their work is centered on immigration reform, integration and citizenship, and state and local developments. I specifically work with the Fields and Constituencies team, where we analyze how immigration is taking place around the country. For our weekly newsletters, I research stories of immigrants who are being affected by the recent executive orders. In addition, I am in charge of posting to the Twitter account of G92, an initiative to inform college-age students and young adults about immigration. I also attend meetings with our partners and briefings on the Hill. My tasks vary every day and I am always learning. I am very thankful for this experience and it has definitely reassured me that advocacy in immigration is a career I want to pursue.

Randy Lohman, Messiah College

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Randy stands with his member, Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) in the Rayburn House Office Building.

I have the amazing opportunity of interning in the office of Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11). I am experiencing first-hand the daily operations of a Congressional office. On a regular basis, I work on projects for staff members, communicate with our constituents, and attend hearings—one I specifically enjoyed was a subcommittee hearing on religious liberty. I have also been trained to lead constituents on tours of the Capitol building. One time, during a tour, I was able to see Vice President Mike Pence walk through the Capitol on his way to a luncheon. Every day, I work with the staffers of Congressman Barletta’s office to help make the office operate smoothly so that we can best serve our constituents.

Choose Your Track, Part I: Public Policy

The Public Policy Track— one of two tracks offered by the American Studies Program— places you in the middle of current, pressing public policy issues under debate on Capitol Hill.

We focus on the political difficulties that policymakers face when economic, humanitarian, and rule-of-law or national security priorities come into conflict with one another. In order to effectively clarify and compare the moral reasoning behind competing policy positions, we directly engage Washington, DC policy professionals working on all sides of the issue.DHS

For example, in Public Policy’s 5-week group study of immigration policy, we visited with the Pew Research Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures to learn about historic trends in immigration flows and policy. We visited the National Council of La Raza and NumbersUSA to hear two very different perspectives on what good immigration policy looks like. We visited the Republican Chief Counsel and Democratic Chief Counsel on the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. And we concluded our fieldwork by meeting with the Deputy Assistant Director of Service Center Operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (who is also a proud ASP alum). Students will present their findings and policy recommendations at a conference we hold in a Congressional hearing room in April.

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James McCament (far right), an ASP alumnus, is the Deputy Assistant Director of Service Center Operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

This type of direct engagement is what makes ASP’s experiential education stand apart from on-campus learning. Instead of researching immigration policy by checking out books from your campus library, you will be interviewing the stakeholders themselves. You collect your research straight from the source!

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Students await the arrival of the presenter at the National Council of La Raza.

If you are a major in Political Science, Government, History, International Relations, Criminal Justice, Pre-Law, or Public Policy, we encourage you to consider joining this study track! To learn more, click here.

See below for more pictures of the Public Policy Track at work, both in the classroom and in the field.

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For research on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA-UAC), this group interviewed a senior advisor at World Vision. [L to R: Kelsey Munroe (Mount Vernon Nazarene University), Ryan Bolton (Friends University), Ashley Fisher (Vanguard University), and Carlye Poff (Wheaton College). Not pictured: Jillian Pascua (Vanguard University)]

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Discussing policy advocacy and diplomacy in the ASP Classroom.

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Ann Morse, Program Director of the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures, explains the role of state and local governments in federal immigration policy.

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For another perspective on immigration policy, the students hear from Eric Ruark, the Director of Research at NumbersUSA.

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(L to R) Randy Lohman (Messiah College), Aundrea Piacentini (Fresno Pacific University), Daulton DePatis (Olivet Nazarene University), and Alex Ruple (Mount Vernon Nazarene University) discuss sanctuary cities with policy advocates at the American Civil Liberties Union.

 

Internship Spotlight I {Spring 2017}

Rolaine Castro, Fresno Pacific University

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With a passion for civil rights, Rolaine feels right at home with her internship.

This semester, I am interning for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Our office is a federal organization that is in charge of investigating civil rights issues. I work with civil rights analysts, and we are currently evaluating the effect that excessive municipal court fines and fees have on the poor and minority population. The office is also preparing for the big Statutory Enforcement Briefing that will take place in a few weeks; this is when the commissioners will evaluate the Department of Justice and their progress toward providing a remedy for the excessive fines and fees. I have always had an interest in our criminal justice system and a passion for civil rights issues, so getting to work in an office where both are the primary areas of focus is like a dream come true.

Carlye Poff, Wheaton College

I have the pleasure of interning this semester with Jubilee USA, an economic justice non-profit organization. Every morning, as I walk up the street to work, I get a full view of the Capitol building at the end of the street. The internship has been the perfect mix of faith-based non-profit work and politics. I am one of four interns in a small office of only three permanent staff members, so everyone knows everyone well.  It is a friendly environment where I am able to develop my professional skills while also getting to know people who have worked in the non-profit world for many years. So far, I have lobbied in the Senate buildings, researched advocacy issues, attended meetings with Jubilee’s partners, and participated in conference calls, and wrote/edited informational documents for Jubilee’s supporters.

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Carlye’s office is located inside a Lutheran church on the famous East Capitol Street.

Rachel Pelletier, Malone University

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Rachel (second from right) and the rest of the office interns stand with CNN Commentator Van Jones (third from right).

My internship with the office of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has been everything I had hoped it would be.  My responsibilities as an intern vary each week. I often interact with Ohio constituents in different ways, whether that means speaking to them over the phone regarding their concerns or guiding them around the Capitol Building for a tour. I’ve also attended Congressional briefings on topics ranging from child welfare to an Advancing Rare Disease Treatment/Health Care Reform briefing. One of my most memorable briefings was the Russian Intelligence Committee Hearing, which featured testimony by then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, then-CIA Director John Brennan, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, and FBI Director James Comey. My office staff has made every effort to invest in each intern. We are encouraged and given opportunities that will enhance our experience and contribute to our professional development. Senator Brown has personally taken the time to meet and speak with us. Every Monday and Friday, our office sets up a lunch between one staff member and the interns, which allows us to get to know them and ask questions. I feel blessed to have been given this experience as it has pushed me to grow as an individual and a professional! An internship on the Hill, specifically within a Senate office, is worth considering!

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Want to have your own D.C. internship experience? Click here to start an application!

 

 

20 Reasons to Spend a Semester in D.C.

The reasons to spend a semester in D.C. are too many to count. But here are twenty memorable experiences highlighted by this semester’s students during their first month here in Washington, D.C.:

Connecting with the City

  1. I love how I feel like I am a part of something important everywhere I go.
    • Andrew Ramirez, Olivet Nazarene University
  2. The connectivity in D.C.— with diverse organization and movements— really builds an overall picture of the body of Christ.
    • Sharlene Oong, Messiah College
  3. I knew it was fast-paced, especially in government work…but you don’t really know until you know. That surprised me.
    • Rachel Pelletier, Malone University
  4. I love how much is happening each day in this city.
    • Caleb Mathena, Whitworth University
  5. Being able to witness history in the making.
    • Ashley Fisher, Vanguard University
  6. I love the fast-paced environment here in D.C. It keeps me on my toes!
    • Karina Reyes, Fresno Pacific University

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Getting Around

  1. I love how everything is walking distance; it makes impromptu adventures easier.
    • Debora Timmer, Olivet Nazarene University
  2. I’ve been surprised at how accustomed I’ve gotten to walking. I laugh when I think about how I took an Uber to places that were only a 20 minute walk away!
    • Ashlyn Rollins, Corban University
  3. I was surprised that I didn’t take the wrong bus on the first day of my internship.
    • Rolaine Castro, Fresno Pacific University

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Favorite Things to Do & See

  1. I love the rush you feel when you’re surrounded by amazing history, beautiful buildings, and my version of celebrities—Congress!
    • Kaitlyn Fehderau, Fresno Pacific University
  2. My most memorable experience so far has been going to the Newseum!
    • Alyssa Burlingame, Azusa Pacific University
  3. I’ve been surprised about how easy it is to find people you see on TV!
    • Alexander Hamann, Messiah College
  4. Learning to give tours of the Capitol as a part of my internship has been the most memorable.
    • Katherine Jeffreys, Gordon College
  5. Visiting Lincoln at night has been the most memorable.
    • Amanda Enzenauer, Vanguard University
  6. The Women’s March on Washington was a formational event for me. I am so thankful to have been here for this monumental event.
    • Julia Baslé, John Brown University
  7. I hope I never forget the chilling excitement of seeing the Washington Monument at night.
    • Lydia Deatherage, Corban University

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Living in Community

  1. The most memorable part of D.C. has been getting to know each person in the program and connecting with them on academics, music, politics, and internships.
    • Jillian Pascua, Vanguard University
  2. I love how easy it is to adjust to the city-life because of how accommodating DC residents are.
    • Ryan Bolton, Friends University
  3. Getting to know the city through adventures with new friends has been most memorable.
    • Carlye Poff, Wheaton College
  4. I love the diversity of the people in D.C. Every day is a new opportunity to meet a different person, with a different background, experiences, and stories.
    • Daulton DePatis, Olivet Nazarene University

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      And in case you need Reason #21: Yes, we do have Chick-fil-A!

 

First Two Weeks (in Pictures!) {Spring 2017}

The ASP Spring 2017 Cohort have taken buses through some of the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, cheered on the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center, volunteered at an after-school program, explored a few museums, and attended the Presidential Inauguration— and that’s just in the first two weeks! This morning, the students are off to the first day at their internships. Check back for updates on what they learn and experience this semester.

Keep scrolling for a view of the first two weeks from the students’ perspective:

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(L to R) Rolaine Castro (Fresno Pacific University), Caleb Mathena (Whitworth University), Julia Baslé (John Brown University), Alyssa Burlingame (Azusa Pacific University), and Jillian Pascua (Vanguard University) are ready to start their semester in Washington, D.C.!

 

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(L to R) Jillian Pascua, Ashley Fisher, and Amanda Enzenauer (all of Vanguard University) at the 58th Presidential Inauguration. (PC: Jillian Pascua)

 

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Debora Timmer (Olivet Nazarene University) snaps a picture of her ticket to the Inauguration Ceremony.

 

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(L to R) Kaitlyn Fehderau (Fresno Pacific University), Katherine Jeffreys (Gordon College), and Lydia Deatherage (Corban University) pose in front of a street-art mural in the Navy Yard neighborhood. (PC: Katherine Jeffreys)

 

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Tasting the many delicious options at the Eastern Market! (PC: Ashley Fisher)

 

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At the Washington Wizards Game!

 

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Alex Hamann, Randy Lohman (both of Messiah College), and Carlye Poff (Wheaton College) stand outside of the United States Botanic Garden. (D.C. Pro Tip: This is a great place to thaw out after you have been exploring the city in cold!)

 

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One of the first things ASP students like to do is apply for an official reader card at the Library of Congress. There isn’t a better place to do homework!

 

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(L to R) Karina Reyes (Fresno Pacific University), Daulton DePatis (Olivet Nazarene University), and Alex Ruple (Mount Vernon Nazarene University) visit the National Museum of American History.

 

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(L to R) Ryan Bolton (Friends University), Lydia Deatherage (Corban University), and Kaitlyn Fehderau (Fresno Pacific University) are pleasantly surprised by what is within walking distance of the ASP Dellenback Center!

 

 

Internship Spotlight II {Fall 2016}

Hannah Wardell, Gordon College

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As a Values & Capitalism intern, Hannah helped plan several events and was even able to attend an AEI event in Boston.

I spent my semester interning at Values & Capitalism, an initiative of the American Enterprise Institute doing outreach to Christian college campuses. V&C exists to proliferate dialogue about the morality of free enterprise and the theological implications of capitalism on college campuses. I’ve spent my semester not only helping with event planning, content creation, and program administration, but also getting to be involved with the conversations happening in the Christian intellectual community.  As a part of a think tank, V&C has the ability to bring together thought-leaders for conversations about faith and public life, like when pluralism scholar John Inazu gave the keynote presentation at our Fall Summit in October. Working at V&C affirmed my desire to work in the context of theology and public life and gave me a practical look at how that’s done by way of high education programming.  It also showed me just how impactful a small department of dedicated and entrepreneurial people can be at engaging culture and how pivotal Christian higher-ed is in that culture.  I’m leaving DC with a better sense of the work I want to do and the kind of people I want to do it with, and I’m thankful to Values and Capitalism for showing me that!

Devin Hill, William Jessup University

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Devin (second from left) with other DNC interns in front of a campaign bus.

This semester I had the opportunity to intern with the Democratic National Committee in the Compliance Department. In the Compliance Department, I learned about financial compliance and ethical regulations. My day-to-day tasks included vetting donors, event attendees, and even possible candidate endorsements. While I was specifically in this department, I had many opportunities outside of it that were major highlights such as: helping with the digital team at the headquarters during the debates, meeting with senior officials, going to staff meetings with the DNC Vice President, and even helping track the polls on election night.

Being able to have this internship has taught me two major lessons. The first thing I learned is to try for the things that you think are out of your reach. When I first heard about the possibility to intern with the DNC, I did not think I was at all good enough to get this internship. But I knew that if I did not apply, I would regret it forever. When you are applying for an internship, do not just go for the safe ones; go for the crazy, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. You are probably much more qualified than you give yourself credit for.

The other major lesson that I learned through this internship is to be flexible. When I first accepted this opportunity, I was placed in the Political Department. But less than a week before my start date, they moved me into Compliance. To be honest, I was a bit let down when I first learned about the change. Now that it is over, I can say that I probably learned more in the Compliance Department than I would have in Political. Your future internship will not look exactly how you imagine it, but that does not mean that it will not be an amazing opportunity.

Derek Ross, Simpson University

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Derek at his internship site, located only a few blocks from the White House.

This semester I had the wonderful privilege of interning for the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that is focused on ending global poverty and preventable diseases. My role as an intern was to help with the research and gathering of data for the relaunch of a nationwide campaign for 2017, as well as helping the implementation and field work for a campaign during the 2016 election season. As a part of my internship, I also was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Atlanta and Orlando for work.

When I first accepted my internship, I wasn’t too sure what I would be getting myself into.  Before coming to DC, I was determined to get an internship focused on sports management. However, when God placed this opportunity in front of me, I decided to run with it and trust that he had an amazing plan, and that he could use me in exciting ways at the ONE Campaign. I am truly blessed to have gotten the opportunity to serve the ONE Campaign and have this real-world exposure for what it is like to research, plan, and implement a nationwide campaign for an organization here in DC. If I had one piece of advice to give to someone looking into the ASP program, I would say trust God and take the risk, because it is so worth it.

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Want to have your own D.C. internship experience? Click here to start an application!

Internship Spotlight I {Fall 2016}

Jake Hemme, Biola University

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Jake (left) with the Chief Prosecutor in charge of extraditions from the Canadian Department of Justice.

I have the distinct honor this semester to intern at the Office of International Affairs (OIA) at the U.S. Department of Justice. This office is charged with the responsibility of executing the extradition and mutual legal assistance proceedings between the U.S. and our foreign counterparts. Simply put, if a state prosecutor needs a suspect or piece of evidence that is in Canada, our office prepares the assistance request in accordance with the treaty, and then we work with the State Department to facilitate the extradition or evidence transfer. I am on the team that works with Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean countries, with six veteran prosecutors and two paralegals. My job, specifically, is to be the right-hand man for all of the staff on my team. I regularly analyze cases, pouring through police reports in order to identify the inconsistencies and missing links in the case facts. I also attend inter-agency meetings with the State Department, FBI, and U.S. Marshals, learning more about how the agencies interact with one another. Perhaps the best part of my internship is the opportunity to work on real-life cases. My intern supervisors do not believe in giving interns “grunt work;” they want me to play an active and significant role in a variety of cases ranging from fraud schemes to terrorism and murder cases. Not only am I developing skills that are relevant to law school and a career in law, but I am also developing an understanding of the delicate balance between law and diplomacy. I leave work each day with a sense of gratitude, knowing that I am part of an effort to make this deeply flawed and broken world just a little bit better.

Hosanna Unom, Gordon College

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Considering a career in law, Hosanna is interning at a lobbying branch of a Minnesota-based law firm.

This semester, I am interning at Lockridge Grindal Nauen, a small lobbying branch of a larger law firm that is based in Minnesota; most of the clients we represent on the Hill have ties to the state. In my first week, I helped organize and host fundraising events for two of the Minnesota members of the House Representatives. Since then, my daily tasks have included compiling daily and weekly news articles for client updates, preparing and editing documents for meetings and conferences, and doing research on various issues of concern for our clients. Working at LGN has challenged me in new ways that that have helped me grow professionally, personally, and socially. The office is smaller than I would have expected, but that has allowed me to get to know my co-workers better and learn a lot about myself. One of my favorite things about working within such an intimate office culture is how intentional everybody is about making me feel a part of the entire work environment. I have been able to learn so much about the law-making process within Congress and the role that lobbyists play in that, and that has sparked my interest in similar fields. As I approach graduation, I hope to find a job similar to LGN where I can continue to use what I have learned this semester, as well as grow personally and professionally in the work that I love.

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Want to have your own D.C. internship experience? Click here to start an application!

Neighbors Take the Bus

The Fall 2016 Semester of the American Studies Program—our 40th anniversary semester—is off and running!

One of the first things ASP students do upon their arrival in DC is participate in what we call a “Bus Day.”  Bus Days organize students into small groups and an Instagram photo scavenger hunt contest sends them off to discover the less-explored features and history of different DC neighborhoods.

The central purpose of this exercise is neighborhood engagement.  ASP students are not tourists; we are residents and we want them to be a part of the neighborhood.  The exercise allows students to personally interact with the Washingtonians living and working in these neighborhoods: visit the corner grocery store; interact with parents in the park; speak with the security guard at the bank; and eat at the family-owned restaurant.  The lessons learned from these exercises stick with you, informing our growing understanding of the importance of “place” to one’s sense of calling and responsibility.

This semester, for their first Bus Day, our students were tasked to visit all four quadrants of the city—Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest.  This included visits to the Brookland, U Street, Navy Yard, and Anacostia neighborhoods, among many others.  See below for some of our favorite photos!

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Hosanna Unom (Gordon College) taught her bus group how to eat with their hands at an Eritrean restaurant in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

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(Left to Right) Abby Morris (Milligan College), Anna-Monet Hartman (Northwest University), and Shea Fordham (Vanguard University) check out an expressive mural on Georgia Avenue.

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(Left to Right) Derek Ross (Simpson University), Shannon Hogan (Oral Roberts University), and Derrick Adams (The King’s University) take a rest at Suns Cinema in Mount Pleasant.

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(Front to Back) Abigail Nyberg (Whitworth University), Arilda Lleshi (LCC International University), Wesley Duncan (Oklahoma Christian University), and Jeremiah McCoy (Messiah College) explore the Anacostia neighborhood.

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(Left to Right) Ethan Peterson (Bethel University), Danielle Harrington (Vanguard University), Jake Hemme (Biola University), and Jessie McBirney (Biola University) stop for a pose at The George Washington University in Foggy Bottom.

Follow all of the Bus Day fun on Instagram by searching for #ASPtakesDCfa16!  And stay tuned for more blog posts to come!

Internship Spotlight II {Spring 2016}

Courtney Selle, Taylor University

Courtney Selle internshipI am currently interning with the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee under the office of the chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander. In this internship, I am specifically working in the education office; however, I also assist with the other areas: health, labor and pensions, as well as work on tasks for the personal office. On a day-to-day basis, I will research the daily news on education and labor issues, attend professional development courses, take notes at a briefing, sit in on staff meetings, and take a few phone calls.

I took this internship without knowing the specific details of what I would be doing, but I can say that the internship definitely has helped prepare me for a future career in education policy. Not only am I learning a wealth of knowledge on education policy and how the policy process works, but I am also meeting highly connected people who have advocated on my behalf as I look to find a job after I graduate at the end of this program. Furthermore the office culture has been counter to what I expected. I was expecting a cutthroat office environment where you are constantly critiqued and people are stomping on their colleagues to get ahead — NOT TRUE! Don’t believe everything you see on T.V. Instead I am constantly thanked for the most menial tasks, even when I do them wrong, and people have been so willing to lend their help to others and myself. I have truly enjoyed my internship and am thankful for the opportunity. If there are any future ASPers who want to intern on the Hill but who are more interested in policy work than constituent work, I would recommend that that to try to intern for a committee!

Ashley Bloemhof, Dordt College

Ashley Bloemhof internshipAs an intern at the American Conservative, I recently had the opportunity to work as a credentialed media reporter at CPAC 2016, the largest Republican conference in the nation. Suits and stilettos crowded the Potomac Ballroom at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel in Maryland, and though the organized chaos may have driven others mad, I could not have been happier to rub shoulders with exceptional writers and photographers. The experience opened my eyes to the daily routine of a journalist and furthered my understanding about what it means to write, and write well, to meet a deadline. Though thoroughly exhausted the week after, I feel incredibly blessed not only as a writer but as a believer as well. In the midst of an election season, it becomes all too easy to settle back into complacency and whine about the current state of our union. However, though the presentations of CPAC speakers and panelists undoubtedly contained rhetoric purposed solely to “rally the troops,” I truly do believe that there are honest, hardworking individuals in the legislature. I will not take for granted the lessons I learned this weekend and hope to continue building on them each and every day.