Tim Konola, a junior at the College, serves as a tour guide in the admissions office. He just returned from a semester in Washington, D.C., where he took part in our internship-based semester program.
As a history major, I enjoy writing about my experiences and reflecting upon them later. When I went to Europe several years ago, I documented each of my nine days abroad. Now, I can happily recall those memories whenever I like. This past fall semester I studied “abroad” domestically, this time in Washington, D.C., through the Holy Cross Washington Semester program. Below is a short description of my experience with that program.
Soon after my arrival at Holy Cross, I learned about the Washington semester, which runs each fall and spring through the College’s Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. I discovered that the program has three components: a semester-long internship, a weekly seminar class, and a 40-50 page independent thesis. All of this work is completed in Washington, D.C., with access to leading political think tanks, library collections, and leaders.
The application process began in the early spring of my sophomore year. It included an application form, two faculty recommendations, an essay describing why I wanted to participate in the program, a sample of my academic writing, and a résumé. I passed in this paperwork and interviewed with Professor DeAngelis, the program’s director. Two weeks later I received a formal acceptance into the D.C. program for the fall of 2013. Only 15 other Holy Cross students were accepted from a competitive application pool. I was ecstatic.
A long summer followed, which began the internship season of my life. From June through August I interned at a local branch of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. At the same time I searched for a suitable fall internship. Dozens of applications, cover letters, and résumés later, I finally secured an internship at The Heritage Foundation, a premier conservative think tank five minutes from Capitol Hill.
For nearly three months this fall I worked at the The Heritage Foundation in the Roe Center for Economic Policy Studies. Four days per week I assisted Roe fellows with their research and compiled a daily list of economic regulation news for the department. I had the opportunity to summarize Federal Registry proposals, write my own blog, and cover two congressional hearings.
I juggled this work with my class assignments and thesis. I must admit that there were times when I felt completely overwhelmed. To achieve a healthier balance, I created a schedule that brought structure and peace to my life: long walks across the Potomac Bridge. Georgetown University’s Library soon became one of my satellite homes as I conducted research for my thesis, and while most Washingtonians complain about the lack of metro accessibility near Georgetown, I enjoyed the long, mandatory walk across the Bridge. These autumn walks gave me time to think about my experience and life in a beautiful silence not often found in the hubbub of the city.
Now that I am back in Massachusetts, I can say that I not only learned more about the American political system but also gained real life experience that I might not have gained otherwise. I made several dear friends, both at work and within the group from Holy Cross. It wasn’t easy to leave campus for an entire semester, but my experience away was inspiring and worthwhile.