Interview With DC Semester Participant Grace Stafford
Interned at The Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange
Internship Development: What parts of your internship were most rewarding?
G.S.: “When meeting with heads of international exchange programs and legislative staffers on the hill I was able to ask for their advice about what I should do after college. The knowledge I gained has been invaluable.”
I.D.: Is there one event that you will remember forever?
G.S.: “I will always remember the Advocacy Day I organized. It was hectic, but so exciting. I was able to really contribute to the meetings, rather than just observe. We were advocating for more funding, along with changes in visa policy to make studying abroad easier. That was the day I realized that not only could I work in politics, but it was what I was meant to do.”
I.D.: Were there any funny anecdotes from your internship?
G.S.: “At any congressional hearing involving the state department or foreign policy there are protestors called the Pink Ladies who basically wear pink, hate the current administration, and promote peace. I attended a hearing where Condoleezza Rice was testifying and discovered that she was the most hated by the Pink Ladies. Not only did they make loud comments about her dishonesty, but also that she had bad hair. As Secretary Rice was walking out shaking hands with the members of the committee, I heard one of the Senators say that they thought her hair looked very nice.”
I.D: What did you learn about yourself through the internship?
G.S.: “I learned that I’m a good saleswoman and researcher. I researched congressmen to better understand how to seel our cause and I surprised some of our members with my preparation. In DC, it is all about the presentation.”
I.D.: Why do you feel students should get involved in the Washington Semester Program?
G.S.: “To put it simply, it is great work experience. I left DC with about 30 business cards and wonderful contacts that will help me when I am looking for a job. Also, for people who are unsure of what they want to do after college it is a great way to find out if a field is right for you. It is juat a few months of your time, but it provides experience that will help you for the rest of your life.”
I.D.: Do you feel that internships are a valuable part of the curriculum? Why or why not?
G.S.: “I feel that I learned just as much with my internship as I would have with an entire semester of classes. These days, work experience is just as important as education. It also helped me to see what I have left to learn and what separated me from the professionals around me in DC. That was the most valuable lesson I could have learned.”
I.D.: How has this internship shaped your future?
G.S.: “I have a plan. I now know what I want to do and what I have to do to get it. I am more determined than ever.”
Past internship Opportunities through the Washington Semester
- Office of Congressman Pete Sessions ’72
- Human Rights Watch
- Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange (exclusive opportunity to Southwestern students)
- World Affairs Council of America
- Council in Opportunity for Education
- Feminist Majority Foundation
- FDA Office of Orphan Products Development
- Office Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
- Children’s Defense Fund
- House Ways and Means Committee
- Department of State
- National Water Resources Association
- Center for Multi-Track Diplomacy
- Smithsonian Museum