Scholars DC

In an effort to explore opportunities after I graduate, I used my STEP grant toward a program called Scholars DC. This program met once a week in spring semester to prepare for our two week visit to DC in May. During the first week in DC, we separated into a few groups to visit two or three places each day. The second week was spent meeting with professionals individually to talk about opportunities and career paths.

During the first week, my group visited the FBI training academy where we learned the process fo FBI training and we got to visit Hogan’s Valley and the shooting range to see some training in action. Then we met with Senator Tom Carper who is an Ohio State Alumni. Senator Carper allowed for us to speak with him about major issues that we are passionate about so that he may spend is time focusing on some of them. We also visited the DuPont Company to talk to the Chief Sustainability Officer about her career path and the company’s goals.

On the second day, we visited the BiPartisan Policy Center, Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and the Pentagon. At the first two places, we learned about what they do and how they try to get the general population active in their causes. At the Pentagon, we received the public tour and got to speak to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army who spoke about his role in the Pentagon as well as what it felt like to be in the Pentagon on 9/11.

On Thursday, we met with Senator Sherrod Brown, who listened to our political concerns and ideas. We then visited the DEA Headquarters where we listened to a special agent talk about his career path and what he’s done while working for the DEA. Then we visited the Secret Service Headquarters where we learned how to apply to be an agent and the process. During this visit I was pulled out of the group to have an individual meeting with a forensic scientist in the Secret Service lab. She gave me a lot of information about internships, what they look for in employee applicants, and in general how to become a forensic scientist.

On the last day of group visits, we visited the CIA and NSA headquarters. At the CIA, we got a tour of Langley and then sat down with four employees who gave us a general idea of what they do and how they got to where they are. We also spoke with someone who was fairly involved in the Bin Laden takedown and gave us a play-by-play of the hours leading up to it and the aftermath. The NSA gave us a general tour of the building and a slight overview of their work. Very suspicious.

During the second week, I conducted my individual visits, a couple of which involved one or two other students. I visited the DEA again to speak with a forensic chemist about the DEA labs and what their work involves. She was very informational about the hiring process and qualifications. I also visited the head of the Forensic Science department at George Washington University who gave me a tour of the labs, a general idea of what the program is all about, and some tips on paying for graduate school. I had dinner with a DNA analyst who works in the private sector. It was beneficial to see the difference between working in the private and public sectors. I visited the Fairfax County Jail and got to tour the prison. Finally, I met with a woman who is a DNA analyst at the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory who gave me a tour of the lab and information about what she does and how she got to where she is.

This trip was overall very beneficial. Despite having no interest in politics, I enjoyed meeting with the Senators and the political companies, hearing what they do and how they do it. The rest of the visits were much more related to my goal of becoming a forensic scientist. The visits really opened my eyes to the possibilities for careers because before this trip I really only thought I could work for police departments or the FBI. Now I have an incredible interest in working for the DEA and hopefully getting an internship there next summer. In addition, I found the graduate school visit to be extremely helpful in my search for graduate programs to continue on after I graduate in 2016.

In the future, this program will have helped me gain so much insight on the opportunities that are out there for me. I have already learned so much about interview processes, potential applicant qualifications, and general employee atmospheres of each of the places I visited. I have definitely expanded my interests for employment in my area of study and have already begun the process of applying to internships for next summer at these places I visit through the people I have met. In addition, the trip helped me begin my search for graduate school and taught me what I need to keep an eye out for when I visit. All in all, I am grateful to have had this opportunity to develop myself as a professional, make connections for future careers, and begin my journey to decide a career path!

Capitol Leadership

WHAT?

For my STEP Experience I went on the Scholars DC trip through The Ohio State Scholars Program. This was a two week professional development trip in Washington, DC. For the first week, we went on group visits to several places and learned what it is like to work at those places. On Monday we did  a welcome to DC scavenger hunt activity. On each other day of week one, we split into two groups and visited different places. On Tuesday, I went to the FBI Academy, The U.S. Capitol – to meet with Senator Carper, an OSU Alumnus, and the DuPont Company. On Wednesday I went to The Bipartisan Policy Center, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – where we we met the director, Richard Cordray, and The Pentagon. On Thursday I went to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Congresswoman Beatty’s office. ON Friday I went to the CIA Headquarters and the NSA headquarters. Over the weekend, there were not any activities planned; we were each free to do what we wanted.

During the second week, each person scheduled individual or small group visits with people in the DC area. On Monday I met with John Garrity, of CISCO. John works in policy advising / lobbying for CISCO; it was interesting to hear about some of the policy side of the tech world. ON Tuesday and Wednesday, I did not have any meetings scheduled, but I did participate in several small group visits to place such as the DEA museum and the White House. On Thursday I met with Ann Froschauer who works for the US fish and Wildlife service; she was able to share a lot about the process of becoming a federal employee and what it is like to live in DC. On Friday I met with several people. Firstly, I met with CJ Horn of the National Defense University’s iCollege; we had a great conversation and I wish I could have talked with him for longer, but I had to get to my next meeting with Helene Holstein. Helene is the Digital Media & Technology Director for Senator Sherrod Brown. After talking with Ms. Holstein, I, along with another student, met with Burke Beckley, of the NGA; he was able to tell us about what Geo-spatial Intelligence is and what the NGA does he also told as some of the basics of what he does for his job.

 

Our group in front of the US Capitol

Our group in front of the US Capitol

While in DC, I maintained a food blog of the food that I ate. The main reason I did this is because I had heard that DC has a great food truck culture and I love food trucks; I wanted to have a way to share my food truck experiences.

 

SO WHAT?

Before this trip to DC, I had never had imagined myself working for the federal government; the bureaucracy seemed like too much. I didn’t think I could even handle working in DC due to all the crowds However, after talking with several people who have worked for the private sector and the government and hearing them tell me how much they enjoy their federal jobs, working for the government no longer seems so bad. Also I learned how to navigate the city pretty well using the Metro and I think I could do that as a part of my commute.

 

NOW WHAT?

The biggest thing that I gained from this trip was that it opened my eyes to more possibilities. I am now less afraid of becoming a lifetime government worker and that opens a lot of possible career paths for me. The most interesting career path that I realized on this trip is working as analyst for the CIA or NSA; I had previously not even considered either of those possibilities as a way to apply my Computer Science & Engineering degree from OSU.