My Time In DC and WAIP

For my STEP Signature Project, I spent the SP19 semester in the Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP).This involved me working full-time in an internship of my choosing, specifically the Department of Transportation while taking a classes. During this time I also lived and attended a wide variety of events, tours, and panels with classmates throughout my time there.

I grew a lot during my time in D.C. It was my first foray into the “real” world, meaning that my normal support network was practically nonexistent, and I had a decent amount of commitments there, working a 32-hour work week, having class, and then also having a variety of study tours, policy salons, and panels to attend as well. It really helped my confidence as I met the demands of my program, realizing I was able to do everything I did.

I also learned a lot about what I actually want to do going forward in my life. Before going to D.C. I was dead set on grad school, but seeing the opportunities I have got me to reevaluate. Although I still want to go in the future, I no longer see it as a prerequisite to getting jobs in the government or politics. This has changed my academic and professional plans pretty significantly, as I continue finding more things I can do right off the bat.

The work I did at my position in the DOT kept me on my toes as I was always working on different projects, or helping respond to events in real time. This all helped me become more confident in my skills as we tackled and solved new problems. At the same time, the work I put into the class I took, which ended with my capstone project, really summed up the work I have done throughout my entire undergraduate career. The opportunites for leadership presented as well helped me reinforce my strengths, while also improving upon my weaknesses, which wrapped up my self-improvement over the semester.

My interactions with the fellows who worked on the Hill, and talking to my mentor specifically gave me a lot of knowledge about the other opportunities that I can pursue outside of going to grad school and seeking a graduate fellowship. This also strengthened my network going forward as I look to dive into some fields different than what I currently have experience in, or possibly return to campaign work. Especially with the 2020 election spinning up, it was a great time for me to have this revelation.

Getting to explore D.C. further and actually living there really helped settle me on moving there some day, which was a pretty big change from what I had previously wanted to do. It took a lot to realize that I could uproot from Ohio (where I have always lived) and move somewhere in pursuit of a more fulfilling life and career.

The combination of improving myself, becoming more confident, and finding many new opportunities that I can pursue really compounded, creating the changes I’ve talked about. Having this kind of direction change has really helped me grow, and opened up a wide array of new opportunities for myself. Since I know I want to eventually move there, I can begin making decisions and altering my life plan to focus on getting to D.C. and into the kind of career I want some day. My STEP Project was a truly transformational experience, and I would be nowhere near where I am academically and professionally now without it.

Getting to meet one of my senators, Sherrod Brown, was an amazing opportunity, especially after having worked on his campaign last fall!

Great View from the Capitol Building!

One thought on “My Time In DC and WAIP

  1. Sounds like you made the most of this experience. Good to know that STEP was helpful in you making some decisions about your plans after OSU. Thank you for sharing.

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