For my STEP Signature Project, I participated in the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP) as a John Glenn Fellow. During my time as a John Glenn Fellow, I had the opportunity to live in Washington DC, intern on Capitol Hill, and experience many of the wonderful things the District has to offer.
There are many aspects of myself and my assumptions that have changed and been transformed while completing my STEP Signature Project. The first transformation that took place was with my career goals. Coming into WAIP I had no idea what I want to do after I graduate from Ohio State. Freshman year I wanted to go to law school, but I realized that I was not planning on doing this for the right reasons. Sophomore year I wanted to go to graduate school and get my Ph.D. in Political Science and teach but realized that I did not want to be in school for that long after my undergraduate schooling. Junior year I had no idea what I wanted to do, and that is when I found WAIP. I had always had an interest in politics, so I was naturally drawn to Washington DC. After my time as a John Glenn Fellow and in WAIP I now have a plan for after my time at Ohio State. After graduating I plan on moving to Washington DC to find a job. After gaining the necessary work experience, I plan on getting my master’s in public administration. I hope to obtain this degree from Ohio State through their Online MPA program that is going to start Fall 2019. I would have never come to this decision without my time in DC, and I only had the opportunity to participate in this program because of the STEP Funding I received.
During my STEP Signature Project in Washington DC my assumptions regarding graduate school, life in DC, and career path have changed. Prior to my time in our nation’s capital, I had the assumption that an individual either when to graduate school right after their undergraduate schooling or not at all. I learned that many individuals with master’s degrees in DC completed their coursework part-time a year or two after graduating. After learning this, I have decided that I will follow their lead and obtain my master’s degree after I have started working. The second assumption I held that was changed by my STEP Signature Project was regarding the District of Columbia. I assumed the District completely revolved around the Federal Government and that was it. I have learned just how wrong I was while here. There is so much to DC outside of the government. The last assumption I held that was altered due to my STEP Signature Project was my career path. Before STEP I never saw myself working on Capitol Hill, but now I am determined that is going to be the next step in my professional life.
During my STEP project, I had numerous experiences, and relationships that helped lead to the transformation that took place with regards to myself and my assumptions. The first relationship that I had the pleasure of developing during my time as a John Glenn Fellow while completing my STEP Signature Project was with my WAIP mentor, Bill Couch. Bill works in Ohio States’ Government Affairs office in Washington DC, and we got coffee numerous times throughout the semester to discuss my personal and professional goals, my questions about life in DC, and anything else that we wanted to talk about. Bill really helped me figure out what I want to do after graduating from Ohio State. He was extremely good at asking pointed questions to help me really think about what I want to do after graduation. He was the one who helped me figure out that after graduating from Ohio State in 2019, that I want to move out to Washington DC to work. He also helped reassure me that it is very common for individuals to go to graduate school online or part-time while working and not being a full-time student after undergraduate in Washington DC.
The first experience that I had during my STEP Signature Project that transformed me and my assumptions was the STEP Signature Project as a whole. Living in Washington DC for a semester is something that I would have never done if it were not for STEP and my time in Washington DC has been invaluable. This experience has raised my confidence in myself, both professionally and personally, and I believe this added swagger is going to help me be successful in life. Also, being in DC helped me gain a higher level of independence and force me to be able to survive “on my own”. I placed on my own in quotes because this experience has taught me that no matter where you go there are always people nearby that are there to help you and want you to be successful.
The final experience that I would like to emphasize that has helped me go through the transformational experience that I did was interning on Capitol Hill. Interning on Capitol Hill has helped me improve my problem-solving skills, learn how to network, gain real-world experience, and learn how to thrive in a new environment where I have zero experience. This experience has helped me grow into a more mature, and employable individual.
The changes I have experienced because of my involvement in the Washington Academic Internship Program and STEP is extremely valuable for me. My time spent interning on Capitol Hill has not only helped me obtain a very desirable paid Government Affairs internship in Washington DC for the summer but will also make me a step above the competition when it comes time to apply for jobs after my time at Ohio State University. This experience was also very beneficial from an academic standpoint as well. I have decided to pursue a dual-degree in Political Science and Public Affairs, which is something I had not considered prior to my time in WAIP. Overall my time in DC as a John Glenn Fellow during my STEP Signature Project has been the most impactful experience I have had in college.