Launching your career with The Washington Center internships

Learn about internship opportunities available through The Washington Center at an informational session Monday, Sept. 9 at noon in SIPA 103.

After the summer of 2013, international relations major Peter Bannon can add speech writer to the “Drug Czar” to his résumé.

Bannon is one of nine FIU students, since 2012, who have participated and have benefited from the university’s partnership with The Washington Center (TWC), a nonprofit organization that provides students of all majors with professional experience, academic coursework, and leadership and civic engagement programming in Washington D.C. The partner status guarantees funds and scholarships for FIU students to cover programming, internships and housing costs. They’re placed with various agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Global Living, Ethiopian Community Support Services, and Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities.

Bannon, a U.S. Army veteran, interned in the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). ONDCP creates and implements federal guidelines pertaining to illicit narcotic supply reduction, demand reduction and addiction treatment. He reported directly to the office’s director, or “Drug Czar,” and was tasked with preparing his speaking points and briefing him for congressional depositions. He also had the chance to attend interagency meetings where he observed how federal policies are developed and placed.

“I truly enjoyed the Washington experience,” says Bannon. “Working for the ONDCP introduced me to the workload and lifestyle of our government’s elite. It’s a pressure cooker environment, but I loved it.

Peter Bannon (right) poses with "Drug Czar" Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy.

Peter Bannon (right) poses with “Drug Czar” Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“In addition to placing me in an internship, the center also helped me develop my networking skills with a range of techniques, including how to dress and behave, what to say, and what to do after I’ve exchanged business cards. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind, life-changing experience tailored to each person going through the program.”

As part of the program, students actively participate in a weekly academic course and a leadership forum where they attend lectures, career boot camp, and meetings on Capitol Hill. They receive college credit, in addition to expanding their professional network, building their résumé and gaining work experience.

Other FIU students have previously interned at sites such as the U.S. Department of Justice, Smithsonian Institution Office of Public Affairs, Tribune Broadcasting, Protection Project, and various embassies. The number of FIU students who participate in the program is expected to grow due to the guaranteed funding opportunities now available.

“The Washington Center had been working with FIU for many years, it just so happens FIU became a holder of state funds last year. Since the relationship has evolved, it’s very important we let our students know of this great opportunity,” said Shlomi Dinar, associate director of academics for the School of International and Public Affairs and FIU’s liason for TWC. “This program gives students the chance to get out of the classroom and actually see and put into practice what they’re learning. Internships are critical to getting a job. We want our students to take advantage of the funding available to them.”

Those students interested in pursuing an internship through TWC should contact Shlomi Dinar or visit TWC’s website.

An informational session on internships through TWC, as well as on jobs and global fellowships and scholarships, is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9. The event will take place at noon in SIPA 103. It’s free and open to the public.

Contributing writing by Grace Taylor and Jessica Marrero

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