Grinnell in Washington Internships
Every student on the GIW program participates in an internship that lasts at least 12 weeks. The internship is Monday- Thursday, approximately 32 hours a week, but much of the learning from the internship takes place through the activities of an internship seminar that all students take once a week. Beginning in April, students take the lead on the search for an internship with coaching and support from Grinnell College's Office of Careers, Life, and Service. Students often end up with placements at organizations discovered through Grinnell’s rich network of alumni in Washington. Science students in particular might also find their faculty to be helpful sources of recommendations, according to a student's interests. See the GIW Student Handbook for a more detailed description of the search process.
The possibilities for internships are endless! A selection of the internships that previous GIW students have had are listed below.
Children's Defense Fund
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) has given me access to a multitude of information concerning the needs of children in America and how our society measures up to those needs. CDF's mission is to Leave No Child Behind and to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. Following its mission, CDF thoroughly examines children's issues, and then uses that information to educate the nation about the needs of children. By fostering an awareness of children's needs, CDF works to provide a strong, effective voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. As a CDF intern working in the Campaign Division, I have seen first-hand the process of giving children voice within our complicated bureaucratic system. This process entails networking a group of individuals who feel strongly about some issue related to children, bringing them to Washington D.C., and allowing them to speak directly with the Senator and/or Representative of their state about that issue. The end result is so amazing! Because of these experiences, I have changed my view of the government and the power of ordinary citizens. Our Government should not be viewed as a detached institution dictating orders down to the people, instead, it should be viewed as an integral part of our every day lives, as a tool every one can use at any given moment to improve their families, their communities, and their nation.
Democratic National Committee
The DNC is the national arm of the Democratic Party. I worked in the public information part of the organization and also worked extensively on the gubernatorial campaign of Mark Warner in Virginia. He won!
Economic Strategy Institute
I work with the Economic Strategy Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think-tank based in DC. ESI is a small organization, but has dealt with a range of issues in the past. My experience with ESI provided me with an extremely interesting perspective on the workings of Washington DC. While I was doing research for a book that the President (Clyde Prestowitz) was writing on how the rest of the world views America, ESI gave me the opportunity to attend a number of events and lectures in DC. Interning at ESI was an eye-opener, with the opportunity to do stimulating research work.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
I work at the department of Housing and Urban Development in the Office of Community Renewal within the Community Planning and Development Office. Our office administers a nation wide economic development initiative in various urban and rural communities. I assist with keeping track of the communities' economic data, contacting community leaders and officials, and improving our online support for community members and business people. I also aid in the development of accurate performance measures for the community renewal initiatives that our office undertakes.
National Association of Child Advocates
The women I work with are super cool— every single one seems like someone who could have gone to Grinnell and loved it. Also, because our office is so small I will be doing lots of substantive work— writing a newsletter all on my own, etc. Right now I'm putting together materials for a Crisis Communications Toolkit, which will help child advocacy organizations respond to the media in the event of a school shooting or other tragic event. Also, I am always invited to meetings that people think will interest me and to events that NACA is putting together. My supervisor has been wonderful in so many ways. She has given me a number of resources for the policy paper that I am writing for Ferrrara's class and even brought in doughnuts one day for the interns when we had to do a really boring task. The atmosphere at our office is very relaxed and sociable. I am really enjoying my internship.
National Wildlife Federation
I work with the senior legislative lobbyist for aquatic affairs. I am most involved with the campaigns to 1) restore the Everglades and 2) reform the Army Corps of Engineers. I have also been working on a couple of publications that will be coming out within the next year, as well as developing NWF's position on West Nile Virus and the implications of mosquito-control programs for wildlife and wetlands.
Public Defender's Office
D.C. is great! My internship is wonderful. I just went through a very intensive training with the Public Defender Service last week, where we learned how to track people down, interview witnesses, take statements, serve subpoenas, and so much more. There are about 30 other interns here this semester. I just got assigned my attorney, who is starting to work on some major murder cases. I spent yesterday shadowing a staff investigator who was trying to track a client down. All of the attorneys I've met here are the most amazing people— passionate and dedicated, clever and funny— they have to be in their line of work. And everyone here is so appreciative of the interns, because we do so much of the investigative work that builds a defense case. Several of the lawyers repeat a maxim that if they had to choose between an ok lawyer and a great investigator, they would go with the best investigator. The amount of respect, work, and responsibility we are given here is great. The atmosphere is also great— people are socially conscious, laid-back (until trial time), and we have staff happy hours every Friday.
Rails to Trails Conservancy
My work is interesting and my workplace is enjoyable. I'm interning at Rails-to-Trails, the main goal of which is to expand the wedge of the federal financial pie allotted to "transportation enhancements," i.e. greenways, bike trails, canals, etc. They've been relatively successful— alternative transportation wasn't part of the federal highway legislation until 1991; since then, in large part because of the lobbying of organizations like us, about $1.8 billion is earmarked for transportation enhancements. I'm presently making a map of the congressional districts modified by the 2000 census. Around campaign time, RTT engages in politician-schmoozing quid-pro-quos: we find out which candidates for the House will potentially support our agenda, and then we call them and arrange a public-relations get-together at a reconstructed trail in the representative's district. RTT orchestrates and pays for the event, so the representative gets a PR windfall. In return, RTT gets about a half-hour of the representative's time; they use this to make their case for why RTT should receive federal funding. Tomorrow I'm going to a hearing on the hill by the House subcommittee on transportation and infrastructure. I'm going as a proxy for my supervisor, who will be out of town.
USB (United Bank of Switzerland) PaineWebber
One intern: I am interning with UBS (United Bank of Switzerland) PaineWebber and work with two financial advisers. My work involves analyzing global equity portfolios. The analysis ranges from global macroeconomic analysis to the study of corporate balance sheets and earnings reports that may impact performance of companies in the markets. I have prepared a number of reports for clients and have also worked on a Power Point presentation. I have learned a great deal about the financial markets over the last couple of months and it has been an amazing experience. My supervisors have been really good mentors. Second intern: I am interning with UBS (United Bank of Switzerland) PaineWebber and I really like it. I am working with the Vice President of Investments and a financial adviser. I analyze client portfolio performance, prepare client reports for meetings and perform market research for different bonds and mutual funds. I have been learning a lot about the financial world and the stock market. Through this experience I have enhanced my analytical, communication and inter personal skills.
World Resources Institute
I interned with the World Resources Institute, which is an environmental research and policy organization that creates solutions to protect the environment and people. My main project was to research on the status of transgenic crop policy, research and public acceptance in various Asian countries. I delivered five country specific reports and a long paper based on my research. I also was in charge of improving project websites, along with various administrative duties. During my internship, I was also able to attend lectures and seminars on global environmental development issues. Because my internship was related to global development, I was able to have it credit towards my Global Development Studies concentration.
For a complete list of all internships done in DC by Grinnell College students, please search the database hosted by using the Center for Careers, Life, and Service:
1) Log onto Pweb
2) Select the Community Tab on the upper bar
3) Select the Pioneer Internship Database bar, located on the left hand side
4) Enter in key words to narrow your search