Nov 11, 2008

D.C. internship program a monumental success

by Brent Reif

An institution with the size and reputation of Liberty garners the attention of prospective students who seek a well-rounded education to prepare them for their futures. Liberty provides opportunities for students to accomplish this purpose through the Washington semester that helps prepare students for their professional careers.

Although Liberty’s career center has recently assumed the leadership of the D.C. semester, the Strategic Policies Institute originally introduced the idea and worked with Liberty to provide this opportunity to students.

“The chancellor’s initiative to bring the Washington semester program in-house under the direct supervision of the career center is critical to expanding its impact in our nation’s Capital,” Director of Development Roy Jones said. "America needs Liberty University student leaders to be “Salt and Light” in Washington.”

The Washington semester offers not only the necessary means for a student to get into a resume-building internship, but also the leadership training and job preparation skills to help aid job searching and networking.

“Our goal is to see students learn and grow through experiential education opportunities provided in D.C.,” Career Center Director and Coordinator of the Washington Semester Carrie Barnhouse said. “Our chancellor has often referred to these students as ‘being on the front lines’ — they are fighting the cultural war by conquering the capital.”

With placement opportunities at their disposal, students can get connected with several options for internships without the hassle of attempted networking and job searching in an unfamiliar location.

“Liberty’s own career center is proud to offer this unique opportunity to students,” Barnhouse said. “We have nearly 5,000 alumni living and working within a 60-mile radius of D.C. It is important to ensure our students are mentored, trained and equipped to help make a difference.”

The career center is also working with professionals who have long histories and even deeper contacts to help secure placements for students.

“Our goal is to identify students’ career goals,” Barnhouse said. “It’s important to know what you want to do with your major and how you plan to use your skills. We want to find internships that are relative to securing a student’s future.”

These internships have a lasting impact on students. Brandon Smith is participating in the D.C. semester and has an internship with the Pentagon.

“By learning my strengths and weaknesses, I can better myself mentally, physically, emotionally and most importantly in the area of discipline,” Smith said. “Possessing determination and desire to be successful is imperative. Through the internship, students can gain both and then some.”

Meghan Kirkpatrick is a former D.C. semester participant who interned with Congressman Robin Hayes (8th District — N.C.) and completed many tasks including, but not limited to writing, editing, capitol tours, executive meetings and committee hearings.

“Not only have I received many job offers through this experience, but I have learned how to be a witness for Christ in a secular, real-world job setting,” Kirkpatrick said. “I am confident with my skills learned, professionalism and executive communication.”
On average, internships result in a job offer more than 50 percent of the time. The same has proven true with the Washington semester.

“More than 100 students have participated in the opportunity to spend a semester learning and working in Washington over the past three years and nearly half of them have been offered jobs,” Barnhouse said. “When they get to D.C. they make contacts and develop relationships with networks that help secure employment later in life. Nearly 50 percent of students said their internships provided networking contacts and skills that would be beneficial for their careers.”

For more information on the Washington Semester and to apply for the spring semester, contact Carrie Barnhouse at or 592-4109.


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