Hunting season is underway — well, job hunting, that is. For the next few months, students from all four Penn undergraduate schools will unite in their search for the elusive summer internship. Whether partaking in on-campus recruiting or surfing PennLink, the general consensus among students consistently seems to be that one location reigns supreme — New York. Students recognize an established pattern in the life cycle of the Penn upperclassman — New York internship after one’s junior year followed by a return to Penn for senior year and then, hopefully, a post-college job offer that leads back to the Big Apple. Thus, in the summer internship search, many students often overlook a prime summer internship destination — Washington, D.C.
It seems that D.C. is often unfairly labeled as being the mecca for political geeks and the wrong summer locale for everyone else. Indeed, when I shared my plans to intern at a D.C. think tank last summer with family and friends, I received more than a few confused responses concerning my dual major in cinema studies and communication.
However, the simple fact is that the D.C. internship isn’t just for political-science students that count down the days to the Iowa caucus and quote The West Wing. These days, more and more Penn students with diverse backgrounds are spending the summer in our nation’s capital.
Amy Oster, a College senior and urban studies major who spent a fall semester in Washington, emphasized the diversity of internship opportunities in D.C. According to Oster, the semester program included business students, as well as history and urban studies majors. “For every imaginable topic, there is someone in D.C. working on it,” she said.
Penn in Washington program director Deirdre Martinez echoed that the program gets lots of different majors. Martinez stressed via e-mail that she has “been told by more than one internship sponsor that they like to consider non-poli sci majors because they bring a different skill set and different perspective to the table.”
In addition to allowing students to pursue jobs in a variety of fields, an internship in D.C. offers the opportunity to interact with students from all over the United States who have come from far and wide to take up residence in George Washington University dorms and Georgetown University townhouses.
The D.C. summer gives students a perspective into the way our government functions that cannot be gleaned from any other place in the United States. In the summer of 2010, Penn in Washington hosted events that allowed students to visit the White House and the Capitol and even enjoy a three-course lunch at the United States Department of State. In 2009, students met with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, former Sen. Arlen Specter and former Rep. Joe Sestak.
And while politics is an important part of the D.C. culture, it is certainly only one piece of the Beltway lifestyle. Interning in D.C. offers a fantastic summer playground for college students. There are great and reasonably priced restaurants, bars, clubs and other attractions, which are all easily accessible by the clean, affordable metro.
“D.C. can be stereotyped as a city just for politicos, but it is truly a city for everyone,” said College senior Hillary Ross, a communication major who spent a summer in D.C. “There is so much culture and diversity, and it’s impossible to go there and not find something that appeals to you.”
Now more than ever, there are a number of ways for students to finance their D.C. summer. The Annenberg Washington Summer Internship Program offers subsidized housing and a living stipend to undergraduate communication majors who pursue an unpaid summer internship in D.C. The Fels Public Policy Internship Program also gives out living stipends to students who take unpaid positions.
So, in their ongoing internship and job search, Penn students shouldn’t ignore the wealth of opportunities awaiting them in our nation’s capital.
Sabrina Benun is a College senior from Santa Monica, Calif. Her e-mail address is benun@theDP.com. Last Call appears every Friday.Comments powered by Disqus
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