ASU Capital Scholar forms lasting relationships in Washington, DC
This June, Arizona State University political science major Suzette Warren traded in the 100-degree desert heat for the fast-paced 65 of Washington, D.C., as part of the Capital Scholars Program internship program.
Students in the program intern over the summer while earning six upper-division credits. The field and location of the internship can vary greatly, from government agencies to nonprofit organizations. Warren was interning at the Madison Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm.
Like many interns in the nation’s capital, Warren was thrown right into the mix, having to adapt quickly. She described the experience as organized chaos in the blog that students are asked to contribute to during their internship.
“While America runs on Dunkin’, Washington, D.C., runs on interns,” Warren said.
A typical day at the firm for Warren was going to meetings and taking notes on issues pertaining to clients. The group also went on tours of the area and learned fun facts such as the highest court in the land is actually the basketball court on the floor above the Supreme Court.
Mainly the students experienced life working and living in Washington, from the frustrations of the Metro breaking down during the day to tagging along with your boss as he lobbies at Charlie Palmer’s Steak restaurant at night.
Although she was 2,000 miles away from home, Warren said she saw Sun Devils everywhere she went. Her employer is a Sun Devil, people she met at events were Sun Devils and even random people on the Metro yelling, “Go ASU!” as they raised up their pitchforks were Sun Devils.
Another ASU alumnus, Matt Caruso, who completed the Capital Scholar program 20 years ago, even had the group over for dinner. Warren found relationships like this were special. There were people all over who were eager to offer assistance and advice during her stay in Washington.
“Without that support it would have been a lot harder for us," Warren said. "Everybody needs a home-cooked meal once in a while.”
One of the more memorable pieces of advice Warren received was from a lobbyist. He explained that networking, specifically fostering relationships, was key.
“It goes far beyond handing someone your business card and sending a few emails back and forth,” Warren said. “You need to care about the person, genuinely.”
Now back in Tempe, Warren said experiences she had in Washington are being taught in the classroom. Reading about environmental issues is one thing, but seeing it firsthand in Congress is the best experience you can have, according to Warren.
Warren feels so strongly about her experience in the Capital Scholars Program that she is making classroom visits to spread the word. She tells fellow Sun Devils that this program is great even if you aren’t a political science major.
An example she gives is when she met a policy adviser at Google. Warren said she had never imagined working at a tech company, but through programs like this and through the power of networking she realized that there were opportunities everywhere she looked.
Based on advice she received in Washington, Warren vows to keep working, even if she feels like she is already at the top.
“I will continuously strive to be better than my best.”