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Summer internship program takes students to the nation’s capital

July 20, 2018 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty University students from a variety of different degree programs have been busy immersing themselves into the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., and gaining career experience as part of the Washington Fellowship program.

The fellowship is an internship program through Liberty’s Career Center, offering students of all majors the unique opportunity to live and work in our nation’s capital for a semester.

This summer, 20 Liberty students are participating. Internship placements include the FBI, Family Research Council, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the American Psychological Association. Students live in historical housing near the Capitol Building.

Rising junior Noelle Cawston aspires to work at the U.S. Department of State. Now she is one step closer to her goal as she is currently interning at the U.S. Senate, where she has been conducting research for various policies that will be brought to the floor.

“This internship has given me a realistic perspective of the expectations you create in your mind before coming to D.C.,” she said. “For me, this experience has confirmed to me that this is where I want to work.”

Rising senior Luke Dillard, who is studying business, is the first intern for the Center for National Renewal, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to catalyze ideas and influencers through prayer, dialogue, and education for the work of national renewal, humanitarian responsiveness, and the common good. His roles have included managing social media accounts, writing content for the website, and editing letters to Congress.

“It’s been a great experience and environment to learn in,” Dillard said. “I feel like I’m getting real hands-on experience in my field.”

Having an opportunity to work in a major city as a student is a great testament to the resources that Liberty’s Career Center has to offer, according to Dillard.

“Everyone at the Career Center helped me get this position, whether it was by critiquing my résumé or cover letter or helping me get connections,” he said. “I’m going to remember this experience for the rest of my life, not only because of the things I’ve learned within my major, but also because of all the fun things I’ve been able to do.”

Rising senior Amber Gonzalez has been working at the Metro Police Department in the recruitment office. Gonzalez, who is studying criminal justice, said her internship has given her opportunities to see the inner workings of a major law enforcement agency. She has participated in recruiting events and conducted ride-alongs with officers.

“It’s amazing to see that the Career Center gives you opportunities to intern in places like D.C. or New York,” she said. “Many people that I’ve talked to here in D.C. from other schools said they don’t have those types of connections.”

Meeting Liberty alumni has also been a plus, Gonzalez said. Many alumni have offered to help Liberty interns as much as possible.

“On the Fourth of July, all of the fellowship students were invited to a barbeque at the home of an alumnus,” she said. “I had a friend who just graduated from Liberty who landed a job in D.C. and alumni helped her find housing. It’s been great to network with them.”

In addition to their internships, students in the Washington Fellowship also receive professional development and opportunities for career networking. On Tuesday, students attended an event hosted by the Center for Law & Government at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. They heard from Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), House Ethics chair; Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03), the ranking member of the House Education committee; Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC-04); Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); former School of Law professor and Department of Justice official Caren Harp; and two Liberty alumni: Sheria Clarke, staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and DJ Jordan, communications director for Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).

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