Bauer students gear up for a semester in Washington
Walking up the Capitol’s steps, a gust of wind shakes the cherry blossom trees and creates a shower of pink and white petals. She passes each statue one by one, each memorialized by a different story. She peers to her right to see the home of the nation’s senators. She peers to her left to see the iconic building housing our state representatives.
At the end of her path, she looks above to see the white dome of the Capitol Building, her home for the spring semester.
“(It’s a) funny story,” marketing and management junior Rebecca Negri said. “I didn’t actually get (in) at first.”
Because of additional funding, Negri was selected as the fifth student to participate in the Bauer College of Business Honor’s D.C. Internship Program, where students spend their spring semesters interning among the nation’s legislative and executive branches.
“At the time I applied, only four students were allowed to go. I ranked fifth, placing me as the first alternate,” Negri said. “Then one day, (I was told the) program had received more funding and that I was going to D.C. Honestly, it was a little overwhelming.”
This year hosts the largest group of students to go on the trip, according to Colleen Davies, academic adviser for the Bauer Honors Program and creator of the program. The program debuted back in January of 2013, and to this day she is the adviser managing the program.
“(The program) offers outstanding undergraduate business students an unique opportunity to live, learn and intern in Washington, D.C.,” Davies said. “This is an opportunity to see the intersection of the business world and government.”
While in D.C., Negri will be working under a fellow Texan as she interns in the Corporate Social Responsibility department of the Financial Services Roundtable.
Davies said all applicants undergo a “competitive selection process,” including an interview by a panel of faculty and staff from the Bauer College of Business. Once selected to the Bauer in D.C. Internship Program, the students determine what department they would like to work in based on their interests, then apply for that position.
“We do not place students in internships, but rather assist the students with the application process for the organizations of their choosing,” Davies said. “This is why our students have internships in a variety of places around Washington, D.C.”
Finance senior and D.C. intern Maycie George believes the extensive application process is worth it.
“I applied because I believed the program would merge my interests in business and government together,” George said. “I am so appreciative for this opportunity. While in DC, I hope to make connections that will last throughout my careers and foster relationships that will blossom into opportunities.”
Along with George, accounting and finance senior Joshua Ferguson is one of the applicants selected to intern at the White House.
“I still have the voice mail Colleen Davies left me regarding my acceptance. I remember jumping up and down and hugging two of my friends as they listened to the message with me,” Ferguson said. “My heart was beating fast, and I just sat on the floor in disbelief. I am so humbled and blessed to have this opportunity.”
The White House is one of many places students choose from. Departments include the federal government, agencies involving the environment, microfinance organizations, business related organizations, international relations and law organizations, think tanks, the Smithsonian Institute and Congress.
For some of the students, selecting where to intern was second nature. However, for students like supply chain management senior Hayimate Beyene, stepping out of their comfort zone was critical when deciding where to work.
“I am currently interning with Congressman Carson’s Office, who represents the 7th District of Indiana, which is most of Indianapolis,” Beyene said. “I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone as well as get extensive insight on how the government functions, and boy, did I hit that spot through this internship. I would have never thought in a million years that I could attain a spot in such an esteemed program.”
Along with the internships, students will take online classes to ensure they do not fall behind on their progress toward graduation. In the occasion a student needs an elective credit, the internship can be used for that credit. In addition, some internships are paid.
A typical day for the interns would be working in a professional office environment, attending a briefing at Capitol Hill, organizing logistics for upcoming events, drafting correspondence on behalf of their designated office or promoting policy on social media, Davies said.
Supply chain management junior Daniel Ortiz will be interning for the Department of Agriculture as a Human Resources intern for the Food Safety and Inspection Services agency.
“I’ve heard that Washington D.C. is the Athens of our era…I cannot think of where more decisions that affect the globe are made,” Ortiz said. “I would like to begin networking here and find start-ups and projects I can play an integral role in.”
Davies said she believes the program’s purpose properly exhibits the business and government’s intersection in action and develops the student’s character in the months they spend there.
“Many of our students intern with federal agencies or trade organizations, so we hope the program will instill a love of public service,” Davies said. “By learning to navigate a new and dynamic city, our participants grow both professionally and personally through this experience.”
Negri said she is fortunate to have been allowed the fifth spot on the trip and is eager for the semester to come.
“I don’t regret not taking chances when I had the opportunity,” Negri said. “Don’t be afraid to try. You never know what will happen. ”