DC: Policy beyond the Classroom by Jennifer Wong

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The Washington Semester program is a great program to supplement a major in PPD. Being in Washington, D.C., the center of our nation’s policymaking, is to really be completely surrounded by our area of study. Concepts and themes from PPD classes like “Government and Business,” “Citizenship and Public Ethics,” “Public Policy and Planning Analysis,” and even “Urban Planning and Development” are relevant and experienced on a daily basis. From questioning the ethics behind government interns attending protests, to writing memos for my internship, to severe planning issues with the Metro system (check out @UnsuckDCMetro on Twitter), the things that I have learned in the classroom at USC are all clearly in action in DC.

Being in DC has also equipped me with tools that are not necessarily accessible at USC. First off, I am approximately 700% more informed about politics than I was before coming to DC. This may be due to the overall crazy 2016 election, or that no one is able to escape the overwhelming amount of news coming from the election, but DC has keyed me into a world of politics that I had never fully experienced before. When conversations in and out of the classroom are dominated by politics and what is happening in the world, you have to keep up to continue to be a part of it. Crazy events, like the passing of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, rock DC immediately and it feels like the entire city is literally bursting with the news.

On the other hand, DC has also given me opportunities that just are not available in Los Angeles. Through my internship, I was able to help staff a Hillary for President fundraising event. I have been given the opportunity to listen to and meet with Senators like Cory Booker, Jeanne Shaheen, and Kristen Gillibrand. At the end of the semester, we are going to have a personal forum with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These are opportunities unique to DC, and it has been a really special privilege to be here during the 2016 election cycle.

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Wong, pictured above with fellow student (left) and Senator Cory Booker (right)


More about Jennifer:

Major: Policy, Planning and Development (Track: Health Policy)

Favorite class and why: The Disruption of the Legislative Process in the 2016 Election. This class focuses on the interaction between the 2016 election and the legislative process, and most importantly, how it has been disrupted. This is my favorite class because on a weekly basis we are able to analyze every step of the election as it happens in real time. No one, including our professors, had anticipated the circus that the 2016 election has become, and it is fascinating to get a glimpse into what seasoned DC insiders think of the races.

Internship site: Berger Hirschberg Strategies

What has surprised you about DC? Sunday Brunch is serious business. Freezing weather or not.

What do you hope to accomplish before leaving DC? I want to be less intimidated by networking, and I want to go to the White House Easter Egg Roll.


Life as a DC Intern by Madi Biedermann

My time working in DC has been exciting, challenging, and most importantly new. I had participated in various internships before coming to DC, and nothing has compared to working on the Hill for the office of U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Everything on the Hill feels so important – every paper I file, phone call I answer, and memo I write ultimately benefits the Senator in some way. While it may be important, work can be tedious at times. But even tedious tasks feel impactful when I explain to the constituent the Senator’s efforts for the state of Utah. And the long errands are not too bad when I get to walk by the Supreme Court on the way to the office. My work in DC feels like it is making a difference, and that has made my experience so much more fun.

Another great part about being an intern in DC is how much fun it is. There are so many college students in DC doing internships and taking classes, and I have gotten to meet people from all over the world. I have loved getting to know other interns on the Hill through networking events and meeting people in the Senate cafeteria. Everyone is close to my age and so excited to be here, which makes it a fun atmosphere to work in. Even though I am working a lot and taking classes, I have managed to find a lot of time to explore with new friends and try all the trendy brunch places.

My experience in DC has changed the way I look at my future. It used to be this big, scary, looming thing, and now I am kind of excited for it. I cannot wait to finish school and get back out to DC and start working. Though it may sound cheesy and cliché, DC really is the place you want to be if you have an interest in politics or law or planning. I am so glad I took a risk and chose to be in DC for a semester.

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More about Madi:

Major: Policy, Planning, and Development (Track: Public Policy and Law)

Favorite class and why: “Disruption of the Legislative Process” because I got to hear from highly respected DC professionals about their experience in Washington and how politics affects what they do every day.

Favorite thing about DC: Everyone talks about politics 24/7 which is my favorite thing to talk about.

What has surprised you about DC?  It’s smaller than I thought! I always imagined DC as a big city because everyone complains about traffic and how crowded it is, but the city itself is really small and easy to get around.

What do you hope to accomplish before leaving DC?  Making connections with both professionals and friends who I can stay in contact with and learn from!