During my time in Washington D.C., I interned at a small public relations firm called Epic PR Group. I worked closely with the CEO and Founder and formed a great connection with her, as well as made other network connections in the PR industry. Throughout the summer I worked on media pitches for the CEO as well as for our clients. I experienced clients coming to the firm for crisis communication work and how crisis messaging is created and sent out. I also created social media content for various sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I was able to apply many things I have learned here at The University of Tampa as well as bring new experiences back to apply in future classes. Along with the internship, Washington D.C. provided many really great recreational activities and The Washington Center made it easy to be aware of what was going on in the city.
I had the amazing opportunity to spend this past summer up in Washington, D.C.! Through an educational program called The Washington Center, I was able to spend two and a half months not only exploring and getting to know an exciting and bustling city, but also to gain experience through an internship as part of the program. Before you arrive, you are matched with an internship based on your interests and desired career path, and I had the chance to work with a small government contracting firm that performs research & development for the military. Thanks to the close-knit culture of the office, I was given a lot of freedom and trust, and as a result some of my work on one of our projects went directly to a division of the Army. It was really an outstanding experience to be able to contribute firsthand to an assignment of importance rather than perform tasks like stocking supplies and making coffee which people tend to think of when they hear “summer intern”.
Internships through this program came in all shapes and sizes. Just sampling from those I lived with during the summer, I had a roommate who worked with a law firm and had the opportunity to travel with them to a conference in Florida, a roommate who worked with a startup non-profit and would attend congressional hearings on Capitol Hill, and one who even interned with the Department of Justice.
Through the Washington Center program we had the opportunity to not only earn working experience and academic credit through the internship, but also academic credit from classes that we attended throughout the summer. Interns work Monday through Thursday and attend a night class one day a week. Our Fridays were varied and were reserved for numerous activities that helped contribute to our professional development. These activities ranged from class, workshops, and a host of career exploration activities to choose from that were located in places around D.C. such as the Supreme Court Building, NPR headquarters, and the State Department, just to name a few.
As a competitive runner, living only a mile away from the Capitol Building was absolutely incredible. I’d come home after a day at work, hit the pavement and run past Union Station, down Capitol Hill, and right along the National Mall. On days I was feeling ambitious, I’d make it beyond the Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool, and to the Lincoln Memorial. If you’re not a runner though, don’t worry – the housing they provide is only about a 5 minute walk from the Metro (D.C.’s main public transit system). The Metro can take you pretty close to just about anything in D.C. such as Nationals Park for a Nat’s game and hotdogs, or the National Mall for the Smithsonian’s plethora of free museums. The Metro even runs through parts of Maryland and Virginia where you could check out some breathtaking sites like Arlington Cemetery or even catch a bus to Washington’s Mount Vernon.
The Washington Monument – Up close at night
The Washington Monument – View from the Lincoln Memorial on a stormy day
A personal recommendation of mine would be to stop by the Library of Congress and register for a Reader Identification Card. I was surprised by how easy it was to do so with no questions asked. Once you get your card you can get access into the reading rooms which offer numerous databases as well as some physical historical documents and books which are great for research. This was a great resource for one of my assignments at my internship and also for a side project of mine where I was able to dig up some family history! I gained access to some newspaper articles from 1952 about my grandfather’s heroics during the Korean War, where he was awarded a Bronze Star.
The Madison Building, one of the three buildings that make up the Library of Congress
The Madison Building, one of the three buildings that make up the Library of Congress
This summer was truly a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Honors Program. They helped put me in contact with The Washington Center and made this opportunity a reality for me. I was not only able to spend my summer in the heart of the most influential city in the world, but also able to earn academic credit and valuable experience through my internship.
Since my time abroad is coming to an end I thought I’d share more pictures. Being abroad has been an amazing experience and I am grateful to the honors program for being part of making it a reality. I took classes at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona’s study abroad campus, which is called Casa Convalescencia and it’s located on the historical site of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. During this semester, I got to visit the hospital which is a World Heritage site and an icon of art-nouveau architecture here in Barcelona. I had the chance to visit other UT students studying abroad in Copenhagen. Also, today, April 23rd is Sant Jordi day, which is kind of like Valentine’s day here, books and roses are given to loved ones and the street sales are incredible; my professor who teaches my Culture Without State class, which focuses on Catalonia, took us on a field trip to see the Catalan culture in action. Casa Batlló, like the whole city, was covered in roses and the streets were flooded with people buying books. I’m sad my time abroad is ending but I also can’t wait to be back in Tampa.
On April 13th, Victoria Sunseri gave an Honors Symposium where she discussed her travel as the recipient of the Timothy M. Smith Inspiration Through Exploration Award. Victoria traveled to Sri Lanka where she volunteered with a non-profit that helps women who have been part of human trafficking operations. She spent close to a month working with the organization then spent some time traveling in the area.
The Florida Political Science Association (FPSA) conference at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Ft. Myers was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed being around other political scientists looking to explore different questions relevant to our world today. It was fascinating to see what undergraduate and graduate students are coming up with and what research topics are seeing more interest.
Being able to present my research regarding the effects of education on perceived government threats with my partner, Anne Kerda, was very exciting, especially because we received helpful feedback to aid us in moving forward with this line of research. The faculty in the political science department at UT were especially helpful in preparing us, allowing us to excel and stand out at the conference. The amount of preparation we had compared to other presenters truly puts into perspective how much our political science department pushes us for exceptional achievement.
Prior to the FPSA conference, I had attended other conferences, but this one was by far the best one! I felt right at home with “my people” [other political scientists] and I was thrilled to share the experience with UT colleagues. In the end, I was happy to hear that the next FPSA conference will be held at our very own campus, so I definitely look forward to participating in the conference again next year!
My time studying at Oxford University has seemed to fly by! I only have a few more weeks until I return home to Florida and I’m just so happy with my experience here. It has been quite snowy in Oxford over the past month, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, as I am originally from New York and we definitely don’t get this weather in Florida!
Following the completion of my tutorials, I was able to do some traveling and the first place I went was Paris, France. I visited the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, amongst other places, and it was truly captivating.
I feel that I have learned more about myself and have developed more independence through this experience. Having to research a topic myself and glean the important information to put into an essay is quite different to the normal “lecture-style” of teaching back home. While different, it was really effective because I knew that I needed to completely understand the topic in order to write about it and discuss it with my tutor. Living and learning in a new country can be a scary thing, but once you embrace it and get used to the way of life, it becomes something so unique and incredible. I feel that this experience has helped me develop myself in ways that I would not have been able to back at home and it has helped me prepare for my future education at pharmacy school. I would highly recommend this experience, as it is a truly one-of-a-kind experience that many people do not have the opportunity to take advantage of.
Things are going great here in Oxford. It has been a little bittersweet now that the term has officially ended, but overall it has been an amazing term. I am still working on my research on British butterflies with one of my tutors. We are getting ready to analyze the data for the two species of butterflies that we decided to work with: The High Brown Fritillary and the Dark Green Fritillary. Sadly, my other tutorial, Marine Vertebrate Zoology, has ended; however, my last essay I had to write was my favorite as I got to write about my favorite animals: sharks and stingrays.
In addition to my studies, I was able to take a trip to Portsmouth recently and visit the British Naval Yards. It was absolutely incredible being able to see some of the old battleships and learn about the history of the British Navy.
In other news, my rowing team was able to qualify for the biggest race of the term: Torpids. This is a race that lasts 4 days where boats try to “bump” each other in order to earn a set of blades. This was the first year since 1999 where Christ Church Boat Club was able to have 3 women’s boats qualify and compete in Torpids; however, there was one force that held us back in Torpids: mother nature. During the week of Torpids, the “beast from the east” decided to visit the UK and with it came a lot of snow which held the city in a standstill. Shops were closed, tutorials were cancelled, and 2 of the 4 days of Torpids had to be cancelled completely. Regardless of the snow and the bitterly cold weather, it was an amazing rowing season and I am so lucky I was able to compete in a few races with my amazing team.
This entire experience has been incredible and it has taught me so much about independence, confidence, and perseverance. I have had to learn how to problem solve, but also how to ask for help when I need it. I have learned not just in an educational sense, but I have learned about myself and about life and that will stay with me forever.