Washington DC: A Home Away From Home

Washington DC is home to many things–a 19-foot marble statue of Abraham Lincoln, an extensive list of free Smithsonian museums, boutique shops that sell sweet potato cupcakes, the First Family, and, for every fall semester since 2007, a little more than a dozen Emerson juniors and seniors, testing out life as young professionals. Although Emerson’s DC program is not as prominent as its Los Angeles campus or semester in the Netherlands, the chance to live and work in our nation’s capital is one that I would highly recommend to any of my peers.

Group photo of students on the DC semester.

The program operates through an affiliate program called The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC), an independent, non-profit educational organization that serves more than 400 colleges and universities around the world. Although one may think the opportunities in DC are exclusively for political buffs, this is not the case. Through the TWC’s ties with thousands of organizations throughout the DC metropolitan area, they are able to place everyone in relevant and meaningful internships that reflect all different interests including marketing, journalism, business, politics, communications and social advocacy.

Caitlin Annand-Baechtel (Political Communication '11) and Daniel Tick (Political Communication '12) attended "Christmas at the White House" during their fall 2010 semester in Washington DC.

Caitlin Annand-Baechtel (Political Communication '11) and Daniel Tick (Political Communication '12) attended "Christmas at the White House" during their fall 2010 semester in Washington DC.

TWC also provides housing. We were placed in a new housing facility with fellow interns exclusively. These gorgeous apartments were in an up-and-coming neighborhood, only blocks away from the nearest metro station and within walking distance from Capitol Hill. This new TWC facility also housed a large meeting space, where interns gathered most Monday afternoons for weekly leadership seminars. Although sometimes these sessions involved activities around the city, such as a workshop at DC City Year or a presentation at the Finnish Embassy, most involved speakers coming to the facility and addressing topics ranging from politics to business to journalism to nonprofits.

With the exception of these Monday afternoon activities, and our full-time internships, our only additional commitment was a weekly Emerson-specific class taught by an alumnus from the area. Philip Maggi (’93), Vice President of External Affairs for Idaho Technology Inc., instructed us in his first semester taking on this venture. Every week we engaged with power-players from both Emerson’s alumni network and his own. We met with lawyers that led the Comcast-NBC merger, sat with communication professionals inside the Obama administration, and participated in discussions with everyone from C-level employees at Lockheed Martin to progressive grassroots activists. Throughout the semester we also had opportunities to meet with the Parents Leadership Council, where friends and parents of students and alumni graciously invited us into their homes and enthusiastically talked with us as though we were their own family. Overall, these once-a-week sessions gave our small group a chance to build a network in a town that is predicated on who you know and bond as a group in the process.

Nicholas Garlow (Broadcast Journalism '11) visited the ABC News Washington DC headquarters while spending a semester in the nation's capital.

Nicholas Garlow (Broadcast Journalism '11) visited the ABC News Washington DC headquarters while spending a semester in the nation's capital.

My semester in DC gave me confidence as a graduating senior hoping to enter the working world. Emerson and TWC gave me the great opportunity to experience a 9-to-5 workday as a young professional. I now feel ready and excited to begin my life as a post-graduate. Participating in the DC program also exposed to me to the wonderful and caring support system made up of Emerson Alumni, parents and friends; a group of individuals ready and willing to provide anything from a great networking connection to a home-cooked dinner. I made great friends and had so many memorable experiences in a really fun city. I am thankful for last semester and strongly encourage my peers, at some point during their time at Emerson, to call DC their home.

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