By: Emily Whitehead ’20, Program Advisor – Business + Government Relations
As a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I came into college with a wide variety of interests and passions. I knew I had interests in politics and economics, though I wasn’t sure how I was going to find a fulfilling career path where I could apply my past experiences and further my passions. I was eager to seek out opportunities where I could explore my interests and consider my options. When hearing about the TFAS Internship Program, I was thrilled about the possibility of spending a summer in D.C. among students and professionals who shared similar interests and gaining professional experience while enhancing my knowledge of the seemingly endless opportunities that exist in D.C. While my TFAS experience ended up being virtual due to the pandemic, my summer with TFAS definitely surpassed all of my expectations.
I left my TFAS summer with a whole new vocabulary of opportunities and career considerations. Through fascinating guest lectures, engaging small group networking sessions, and casual one-on-one conversations with my mentor, I felt like I learned something new each day. I also loved the opportunities where I learned about my peers who all had unique interests and diverse backgrounds. With all of the connections I was able to make sitting behind my computer screen, I gained a lot of confidence knowing I could reach out to so many people when I would eventually make it to D.C. in person.
The most rewarding experience I had was being able to intern remotely for Women In Government, a non-profit that works to connect women state legislature nationwide. I was a little star-struck initially, as I had the opportunity to be on calls with influential legislators around the country (including Senator Susan Collins in one meeting), which made logging on to Zoom each day very exciting. As an intern with a small organization, I was able to work on a wide variety of projects and work closely with my supervisors. This experience was incredibly impactful, as not only did I gain a variety of professional skills, but also gained a deeper understanding of the legislative process as a whole.
Something unique about TFAS is its emphasis on providing an academic experience in addition to other programming. I loved this aspect of my summer, as it allowed me to learn about how my more hands-on experiences fit into the broader economic process, which complemented the other programming very well.
Spending my summer with TFAS was one of the best decisions I have made, and I am so excited to return as a Program Advisor this summer. I am thrilled about having the opportunity to go to D.C. in person (finally!) and guide others in having their own impactful experiences. I am so excited for other students to develop their own story with TFAS and I’m excited to play a part in helping them do so!
Follow my adventures in Washington, D.C. this summer on Instagram @dcgovernmentrelations.
Program Advisors, informally known as PAs, are recent TFAS alumni who live in student housing and help current students navigate the program and Washington, D.C. during the summer.