The annual Day on the Hill program, co-sponsored by the Political Science Department and the Salisbury Center for Career Services, this year saw 19 HWS students spend Tuesday, Jan. 8 and Wednesday the 9th, meeting with alums and specialists in a variety of careers in Washington, D.C.
Led by Professor Iva Deutchman and Assistant Professor DeWayne Lucas, both of the Political Science Department, students heard from Jim Hayes ’77, a lobbyist with the Census Bureau; Peter Brown ’01, a foreign service officer at the Department of State; Brian Gottlieb ’91, president of Got-Focus LLC; Susan Brophy of The Glover Park Group, a communications firm; Lorraine Voles, who is working on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign; and Katie Hanna, a special agent for the FBI.
President Mark Gearan drew on his experiences in the Clinton White House and as Peace Corps director and talked about the presidential campaigns; the New Hampshire primary was the same day as the first half of the visit.
Professor of Political Science Emeritus Joe DiGangi, who established the off-campus program in Washington, D.C., spoke to the students, alumni and alumnae at lunch on the first day. “The panels of alums … spoke of the importance of being persistent in trying to get a job,” says Vince DeFabo ’08, “and of the importance of building up a networking base.”
That evening, the students attended the HWS Club of Washington, D.C.’s holiday party at the Credit Union National Association. “We had a networking night with alums from all over D.C., ranging from the Classes of 1949 to 2007,” DeFabo says. “They were interested in finding out how much HWS has changed, and we were interested in how they got to where they are in their respective careers.”
On the second day, students were divided into three groups based on interest; visiting offices including the Heritage Foundation, The American Association of Political Consultants, the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, Chemonics International, a consultant for developing countries; and the Center for American Progress.
Later they met with a panel of alums including Hadley Sosnoff ’06, legislative correspondent for Rep. Nita Lowey, D- N.Y.; Will Cox ’06, legislative correspondent for Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J.; Jeremy Horan ’07, staff assistant to Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.; Chet DiBari ’06, staff assistant to Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Elyssa Koidin ’04, a legislative representative at ACORN; and Donna Richardson ’05, sports coordinator at the Department of State.
The panelists offered practical advice and information about working on the Hill – amount of money made, the job environment, the importance of internships, resumes, writing skills, and a breadth of experience.
DeFabo says, “The overall message that I got out of the two day event was that if I’m interested in politics, I can find a multitude of careers in the Washington, D.C. area … Nowhere else can a recent college graduate be so close to the power structure that he or she learned about just a few months earlier.”
Lucas says that a main part of the trip was to “expose students to a variety of jobs [done on the Hill]…and to build contacts with alums in positions to help students.” Deutchman agrees: “I think that’s what students got out of it…the student response was fantastic.”
The only thing more enthusiastic than the student response was that of the alumni, several of whom contacted Deutchman and Lucas, thanking them for the opportunity to be part of the Day on the Hill. The group was accompanied by Brandi Ferrara, Senior Associate Director of the Salisbury Center for Career Services, who helped coordinate the arrangements.
Planning has already begun for 2009’s Day on the Hill; students from a variety of disciplines are encouraged to participate. Details will be announced by the Salisbury Center for Career Services.
Top photo features Professor of Political Science Emeritus Joe DiGangi, group photo highlights President Gearan’s address at the evening reception.