Bernadette Brandt ’13
Internship Site: National Association of Federally Impacted Schools - Washington, DC
I secured my internship through The Washington Center. After spending a semester at NAFIS through TWC, I was interested in staying in DC for the summer. I approached my boss about staying, and fortunately, he was able to take me for the summer.
The main project that I worked on was grant writing for NAFIS’ sister organization. I spent a considerable amount of time on this, and since I had no experience in grant writing, I made many mistakes along the way. After the summer, I feel that I have a strong understanding of fundraising due to classes I took and feedback I received. I was also able to work on a technical policy change in the Impact Aid law. This was my favorite project because I sat in on many meetings with Hill staffers from personal offices as well as committee staff. It was great to see the behind the scene meetings that go on in order to push a policy initiative through on the federal level.
I believe that my American Government class that I took with Professor Hoefler prepared me for some aspects of my internship. In order to understand what NAFIS does, it requires a great deal of background information on how Congress works and specifically, how they appropriate money. I had a good understanding of this process due to this class. This internship allowed me to apply things I learned in the classroom to real life situations.
All of the staff at NAFIS was crucial to the success of my internship. They provided me with great advice and guidance not only on work-related matters, but also on school and the direction I’m heading in the future. With only four full-time staff, NAFIS is like a family, because of the great relationships we all have. In particular, the Executive Director was also more than willing to help me with anything I needed.
Now that I have completed my internship, I know that I would love to come back and work in DC. I also know that I would really enjoy working in government relations and public policy. Through informational interviews, I learned that it is best to work on the Hill before going into advocacy or government relations, which I think is my ultimate goal. It has been very helpful to see the linear path that most people follow interested in working in or around the Hill.
Tips from Bernadette:
Make a list of all of the organizations that interest you. Go through their websites and call or email them to see if they take interns, and how to apply. I would also recommend talking to friends and family that may have connections you could use.
*To find out more about how to get an internship, make an appointment with a career counselor. Just call the Career Center at 717-245-1740 or stop by Biddle House.