Name: Varsha Challapally
Type of Project: Internship
For my STEP Signature project, I participated in the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP), offered through the John Glenn College of Public Affairs here at Ohio State. I lived in Washington, D.C. from August 2017 – December 2017, and I interned at the Partnership for Public Service, while taking courses and participating in additional programming required through WAIP, including policy salons, networking events, and study tours.
Through my participation in WAIP, I gained a deeper understanding of what I want to do after graduation, and learned about a plethora of different industries, careers, and positions I did not know about before. Participating in WAIP has really helped me narrow down my post-graduation plans, and develop connections and a network in an amazing city that I want to move back to after graduation in May. As a Political Science and Public Affairs double major, I have always been interested in government and politics. However, WAIP truly helped me narrow down my true passions and I now have a clear vision of what I want to do after graduation. Additionally, WAIP has given me the the tools to achieve my goals through the growth I felt from living in a brand new city for four months. I started off WAIP as an eager intern wanting to learn more about the city I was living in, and do well in my internship, and completed the program with a firm grasp of what I want out of my professional life, and the tools to carve out a path to achieving my goals.
My internship, the various informational interviews I completed, the study tours WAIP offered, and the coursework that WAIP consisted off truly helped me with the aforementioned transformation. To begin, my internship at the Partnership for Public Service was one of the most positively impactful experiences of my life. I learned more about the nonprofit sector and worked closely with government employees. This enriched my knowledge and understanding about federal agencies, and helped me gain a more holistic view of nonprofits, and allowed me to understand the kind of organizational culture I wanted to be a part of, during my future career.
Moreover, WAIP requires that all participants partake in informational interviews with individuals who live and work in Washington. I had the privilege of completing a plethora of informational interviews, all with kind, passionate, and high achieving people who worked at different organizations and industries, including the federal government, consulting, foreign service, and on Capitol Hill. Having the opportunity to speak with and learn from these indivduals was truly transformative, as I got to learn more about their story and their career path, while also receiving advice as I prepare to graduate in May. Overall, completing informational interviews was truly impactful, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from some incredible individuals, through this capacity.
To continue, the WAIP program requires participation in Study Tours every Friday. Study tours are similar to field trips, and the entire WAIP cohort visits an important place, or has a meal with an influential Ohio State alumni. This included the Pentagon, the State Department, NPR, the White House, and many more interesting places with an enriching history and function in America society. Study tours really helped me gain a holistic view and understanding of Washington, D.C., in addition to the 32 hours of interning and other WAIP programming. Study tours helped me feel as though I was truly a part of the city I lived in, and I got to see more of Washington, D.C., than I knew existed. Additionally, we almost always had an Ohio State alum lead the study tour site, which reaffirmed the Buckeye connections in Washington. It became evident that Ohio State alum are widespread and prominent in Washington, and it made me even more proud to attend a university that is so well respected and has camaraderie and spirit all over the world. I have attached 2 photos of me on study tours, both led by Ohio State alumni who work at the places we were visiting. This first is on the Speaker’s Balcony at the U.S. Capitol Building, and the second photo is when we visited the Pentagon.
Finally, in addition to interning and study tours, WAIP also has 12 credit hours of courses that are taught by an adjunct professor. Throughout the semester, WAIP participants have to choose a policy area that is of interest to them, and write a 20-25 page research Capstone paper regarding the issue. I was very passionate about the issue I chose, and felt that writing a research paper about a policy in the city where laws and policies are created, really helped me enrich my understanding of the issue and elevate my passion to be an advocate for the subject. While writing the paper took a lot of effort, I was very proud of my completed version of the research paper and consider it to be a large accomplishment.
Overall, I could not be more grateful for all the incredible opportunities that participating in WAIP has given me. I am now in my last semester of college, and am confident that the experiences and connections I have gained through WAIP have helped me greatly through my job search, as I prepare to graduate in May. I plan on moving to Washington, D.C. after graduation, and know that the experiences I’ve had through the program have truly transformed me into a young professional, and have helped me narrow down what I am passionate about. Having the opportunity to live in Washington is a one of a kind experience. Everyone in the city is ambitious and passionate about something, and being around that positive energy is truly inspiring, and makes me want to work as hard as I can to create positive change. I am very grateful for the experience I’ve had through WAIP and know that my career path and passions would not be the same without it.