Students with an interest in pursuing careers at the heart of the nation, Washington, D.C. had the opportunity to explore the capital during winter break. For the sixth year, Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas and Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman – with the assistance of Assistant Director of Employer Development Miranda Warder – accompanied students on the Day on the Hill program. The three-day trip included numerous panels and more than 15 alums provided attendees with a glimpse into life and work on the Hill.
“Students got a real sense of the different ways of getting to D.C. and being a part of the federal decision-making process,” says Lucas. “Whether they were interested in political science, history, economics, or started out with summer internships, participating in the D.C. off-campus program, or went to DC right after graduating, I think students saw the value of an HWS education and network in finding a role and place around the Hill.”
This year’s program was particularly strong, thanks in part to the outstanding participation of the students. “They truly listened and asked so many wonderful questions. It was evident that they did their homework,” remarks Deutchman. “They really got something out of the whole experience, and each speaker walked away really impressed.”
The program opened with an address from keynote speaker Karin Moore ’89, the assistant general counsel at Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America, and continued with several panels of alums who addressed a litany of issues related to the Hill and political careers.
The final day of the experience was filled with site visits for the students, who were divided according to interest. Among the locations visited were the Democratic and Republican National Committees, Ogilvy Public relations, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Washington Post.
At Ogilvy, students had the incredible opportunity to meet with the organization’s CEO, who took the time to address student questions, while at the Heritage Foundation, several employees who work to assist people in obtaining internships and jobs spoke with students about resume writing and building. “They really went above and beyond this year,” says Deutchman. “This really allows our students to have a leg up – an internship with Heritage, for instance, provides amazing leverage into the D.C. job market.”
Elizabeth Seidel ’13, an international relations major, found the resume writing assistance to be particularly helpful, and believes that effective writing will be key in her path to D.C. “Every alum that met with us mentioned the importance of knowing how to write concisely,” remarks Seidel. “As a junior at HWS, it will help me plan my senior year to include more writing courses.”
However, a highlight of the trip was a glimpse into the daily life of one of America’s most important organizations – the U.S. Secret Service. Stuart Hillenbrand ’04 gave the group a guided tour of headquarters – or as much of the facility as the public is allowed to see. Hillenbrand, who serves as a guard to President Barack Obama, discussed his journey from the military, to a police offer, and ultimately as a service agent. “The students really loved it,” says Deutchman. “We couldn’t have done this without Stuart; it was a truly unique – and extremely cool – experience.”
Andrew Frolich ’14 took to heart the personal advice of alums, learning a great deal from their journeys and life experiences. “I enjoyed talking to the alums and professors in a more informal setting,” says Frolich. “It really gave me a window into the world of political and economic decision making in Washington, D.C., and how I could translate a major in one of those fields into a career.”
“One of the most valuable parts of the trip was meeting individuals who were currently working in Washington, D.C., and learning what it is like to live and work there,” says Daniel Kolinski ’12, a biology and environmental studies double major. “This trip also allowed me to realize career paths that I had not considered prior to going to D.C. but that I am now interested in pursuing.”
One of the strengths of the program is the amount of passion contributed by HWS alums. “One thing that comes through year after year – every speaker wants to help, and they go out of their way to reach out and do so,” says Deutchman, who added that each alum encouraged students to contact them by phone, e-mail or through various social networks.
In the end, much of the program’s success can be credited to the generous support and outreach of the Washington, D.C. area alums. “The alums emphasized the importance of building a solid network, the necessity of being open to new opportunities and the significance of a strong interdisciplinary and disciplinary approach to the world,” explains Lucas. “Each of them talked, in one way or another, about how their HWS experiences in and out of the classroom were valuable tools to their current success. There is no one road and this program is one way that HWS prepares our students to look at multiple, personal journeys to their chosen objectives.”