The Seminar and my Internship = the Perfect Combination

AU Gap Students enjoy a boat tour with the Anacoatia Riverkeepers.

It’s been about six weeks since we’ve arrived on campus, and finally all of us Gap students are settled into our working and class schedules. It was quite the transition from being a high school senior taking eight classes, to preparing for an internship fair and going on site visits my first week in D.C.

Our in-class site visits have taken us everywhere from the Arlington National Cemetery to the Newseum – my personal favorite. In between those two, we’ve seen the National Archives, National Monuments, and even been on a boat tour of the Anacostia River. When us Gap students aren’t exploring D.C., we’re usually discussing topics from our American Politics Seminar, or updating each other on all of our exciting internship opportunities.

The internship I have chosen to take this semester is in the Congressional Office of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. Her office is located in the Cannon House Office Building, and she represents the 21st district of New York. She is the youngest Congresswoman to be voted into the House. Working in such a young and professional office is enjoyable and inspiring.

My biggest responsibilities in the office consist of speaking with constituents on issues the Congresswoman will vote on, and giving tours of the Capitol building. Getting to the Capitol at first from Cannon was a tricky task, but after doing it a couple of times, I’ve got it down. I’ve learned a ton of interesting fun facts, some being about how the Capitol is haunted!

I can easily say that the American Politics Seminar and my Hill internship make the perfect combination for me this semester. I am honored to be where I am, and am looking forward to the rest of this semester here at AU.

– Molly Kopp, AU Gap Student, Fall 2017

An exciting few weeks, but still so much ahead of us!

Madeleine at her internship at the American Red Cross

We are almost a month into the American University Gap Program with still so much ahead of us! In the meantime, we’ve explored Arlington National Cemetery, uncovered some of America’s most historical documents at the National Archives, and cruised along the Anacostia River while hearing about the current environmental issues plaguing our nation. When we are not engaged in our on-site visits, you can find the AU Gap Programmers studying American Politics or working at their individual internships.

Our first week at American University was devoted to making sure we were all well prepared for one of the most significant networking events of the semester – the Internship Fair. Held in early September, the fair was an excellent way to create an initial platform for our professional skills, to build off of throughout the semester. Although I was fortunate to already have an internship secured before the fair, such an influential learning experience allowed all of us to establish a foundation of success for future job searches.

This fall, I am interning at the American National Red Cross. This is the perfect internship for me since I have a strong passion for helping others and intend to follow a career path into medicine. While I will primarily be responsible for on-site disaster relief, other things I will be involved in at the American Red Cross include assisting with casework research and getting involved with their “Pillow Project”- educating children about what to do in a disaster. With the recent catastrophic events in Texas and Florida, the American Red Cross staff is busier than ever and it is truly an honor to be a part of such an effective and benevolent organization

– Madeleine Chow, AU Gap Program, Fall 2017

American University Gap Program Kicks Off a New School Year!

It’s a new semester and the American University Gap Program is excited to have our fall students on campus. This fall, 14 students are joining us from nine states and DC to immerse themselves in an academic seminar and internship.

After a two-day orientation last week, students kicked off the semester with the internship fair on Monday.AU Gap Students enjoying orientation At the fair, students networked with nearly 100 organizations to find an internship for their Mentored Field Practicum course. With a variety of interests, students are securing their internships in everything from Capitol Hill—working in their congresswoman’s office, to hospitality—working with the management of one of the highest regarded restaurants in DC.

Fall 2017 Internship FairYesterday, students started their American Politics Seminar where they’ll learn about U.S. government theories and practices in the classroom from lectures and guest speakers, and out in our nation’s capital!

Throughout the semester, you will hear directly from our students about their experiences living and learning in DC. Stay tuned!

The City Where It All Happens

In the closing weeks of my time here in D.C. I’ve come to really appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to experience the city where so much happens. My internship with Lobbyit, a small lobbying firm located near the Congressional office buildings, has taught me valuable skills about working in an office setting as well as giving me more knowledge on the political processes of our country. I have been able to see more closely the political process and have attended various hearings by the Committees of Congress, both house and senate. Every day of my internship I have the pleasure of being able to see my favorite building in Washington, D.C., the United States Capitol Building.

This week I helped Lobbyit with one of their “Hill Day” events, where they take a group from a client organization up to meet with members of Congress concerning a certain issue they hope to see action on. Even on the days away from my internship Professor Maisch keeps things interesting with thought provoking lectures and organizing meetings with fascinating speakers every week.

My semester here in the Gap Program has made me fall in love with this city and has been a great learning experience before college.

-Kyle Clements
AU Gap Student, Spring 2017

Only 2 weeks left…where has the semester gone?

The semester has flown by and our AU Gap students are busy finishing up the semester. So what have the students been up to the last few weeks?

In their seminar class, they have explored the role of the media in Foreign Policy including a speaker at the National Press Club and then a visit to the Newseum. They have visited the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and met with the Office of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

And this week student met with Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins to learn more about the Global Health Security Agenda, an international effort with over 55 countries to reduce infections disease threats such as Ebola and Zika.

Next week students will wrap up class and internships and start studying for finals!

Exploring Foreign Policy through Different Perspectives and Site Visits around DC

Spring break has passed and the semester is more than half over. It has been incredibly rewarding to teach this wonderful group of students. So far, this semester our Gap Year Seminar on International Affairs has met with U.S. Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, Senior U.S. Foreign Service Officer and President of the American Foreign Service Association, for an outstanding lecture on new threat-set facing the United States and the world in the Twenty-First Century. Subsequently, we have been exploring the alternative responses that U.S. foreign policy may provide to these new challenges. We have also studied the constitutional debate over the roles of Congress and the Executive Branch in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy, as well as the main schools of thought that seek to guide our foreign policy.

While considering the various philosophies competing to influence U.S. foreign policy, we have visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum where we had a seminar session with an expert on the international law of genocide, with a Holocaust survivor from The Netherlands, and toured the Permanent Exhibition. We have also met with representatives from The Heritage Foundation, the World Service Authority, the Center for the National Interest (formerly known as the Nixon Center), the Cato Institute, Citizens for Global Solutions, and the Center for Teaching Peace, all of whom offered sharply different perspectives on how to respond to the current international challenges facing the United States and the world. We are capping this section with a class discussion about the schools of thought in U.S. foreign policy, for which every student has chosen his or her preferred school of thought and written an essay making the strongest possible case for it based on the lectures, guest speaker presentations, and required course readings. We are all enjoying this major class debate that is now going in to its third phase this week. It has been both enlightening and enjoyable

-Dr. Christian Maisch, AU Gap Professor, Spring 2017

The Semester is Almost Half Over

As this semester’s halfway mark approaches, it is really starting to dawn on me what a unique experience this has been. I have spent most of my weekdays interning at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a non-partisan think tank that focuses on the Middle East and military affairs. So far in my internship, I have had the opportunity to sit in on a Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill discussing Israeli, Palestinian, UN, and US relations with the new Presidential Administration and wrote a piece regarding Iran and its nuclear capabilities in the voice of our CEO. Although my original draft was quite revised before being published, I took away a better understanding of how to draft an international policy write up.

Outside of my internship, I have been taking an International Relations seminar and have learned from influential speakers and leaders in the Foreign Policy world. From a pacifist and professor teaching peace to a research expert on the EU and Middle East at the Heritage Foundation—I have learned so much! It has been awesome to see the new administration unfolding and hear the opinions from so many different voices.

Often the topics that are covered in class continue to friendly conversations back in the dorm. To be surrounded by people that are genuinely interested in current affairs and politics and can maintain those conversations is pretty cool and most definitely has taught me more than any class lecture could.

-Kaleigh Gillen
AU Gap Student, Spring 2017

Have Only Scratched the Surface So Far

At this point I have been in DC for about six weeks and I am starting to settle in. My internship has been incredible so far. I am working as a sports intern with The Washington Times. So far I have covered college basketball as well as the Washington Wizards. Getting this experience at this age is something I never would’ve thought was possible. While I have realized that I may want to get more into broadcast rather than print media, I love my job right now.

As far as living in DC goes, we’ve done some pretty cool things. We’ve seen all the monuments and we think we found the best burger in DC, but we are always looking for new places to eat. Not having a car has been a bit of a challenge, as the metro isn’t the greatest and Uber is super expensive, but there’s so much traffic in DC anyway.

Over the next few weeks I’m looking forward to getting more into my internship and covering more teams as well as continuing to explore my new home. There’s so much to do here and I feel like we have only scratched the surface so far.

-Peter Santo
AU Gap Student, Spring 2017

What will they do in their internship?

More often than not, prospective students and parents ask the question, “what does an intern do in the AU Gap Program?”

Students join the Gap Program normally straight out of high school. They may have had some part-time work or leadership experience, but rarely have had an internship before. This is not a problem as we coach the students how to discuss their experience and how it can translate to professional work environments.

Here are a few employers that our spring Gap students are interning with this semester and what they will be doing in their internships:

  • Naval History and Heritage Command– assisting with research on the health of sailors in the 19th Century Navy, including looking through ship logs and other primary and secondary sources to contribute to a future official history on the subject.
  • LobbyIt- attending Congressional hearings to summarize for the firm’s lobbyists and researching bills going through Congress that could affect clients.
  • Circle of Friends for American Veterans– assisting with research regarding statistics around veteran treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs and spreading public awareness through social media and other news outlets.
  • Foundation for the Defense of Democracies– drafting press releases, creating social media content, assisting with broadcast interviews, and monitoring the organization’s media profile.
  • Washington Times– covering press for the basketball teams from the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia, including attending practices, games and all media availability to conduct interviews along with writing features on players and coaches.
  • FedScoop- planning and assisting coordinate events for the organization including roundtable discussions, summits, and webinars.
  • Jacobs, Cordova & Associates– learning about international economic issues, conducting research, contributing to business development efforts and competitiveness research reports.

It is incredible to hear about the awesome opportunities our students are having this semester. The AU Gap internship experience is sure to set a foundation that students can transition to college and other experiences.

First Days in DC and on the Job

As a newcomer to the AU Gap Program this spring, I was a little unclear on what to expect. Sure, I had read all the materials provided and looked at what past students had to say about their experience, but nothing I read could have foreshadowed the excitement that was to come.

The first few days were dedicated to preparing for the Internship Fair where about 50 different organizations would be coming to recruit us bright-eyed and bushy-tailed students. I walked into the internship fair a little nervous, but did my best to fall back on the lessons we were taught leading up to the event. The night after the internship fair, I received a call from the Federalist Society, one of my favorite organizations from the fair, asking if I could meet for an interview the next day.

Our first day of class with Professor Christian Maisch (who is quite the comedian!) featured Ambassador Barbara Stephenson from the American Foreign Service Association in the morning and then we practiced our interview skills with an expert in the afternoon. After class, I was ready to trek downtown for my internship interview. I walked into the beautiful office building, just a few blocks away from the White House, ready to be put on the grill; but instead was taken to a restaurant where I was relieved to find myself not on the menu! The interview went great!

After landing my dream internship with the Federalist Society, I started my career in Washington D.C. as a research associate. Since then, I’ve worked to compile reports on various topics to brief the leadership and have written a short introduction for a well-known Congressman. The work is hard but the hours pass quickly when you’re doing what you love. After the first week, my co-worker and gap-semester buddy Will and I quickly realized there is only one appropriate way to close out a good week of work. At 5pm, we hop on the Metro toward the Capital and go to D.C.’s best burger joint, Ollie’s Trolley. The only problem so far is the experience is going too quickly—I’m doing my best to savor each fry, one bite at a time.

-Joseph Caplis
AU Gap Student, Spring 2017