A Reflection on My Summer Internship Experience

Note: ED is now accepting applications for winter/spring internships.

Ernest Ezeugo and Secretary Arne Duncan. (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)

Ernest Ezeugo and Secretary Arne Duncan. (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)

I remember sitting on the top floor of the K Street Building the same way I remember my first day of college: excited, anxious, but out of place, as if I didn’t belong. Where I’m from, people don’t often get the opportunity to intern in Washington, DC at a federal agency like ED. That’s actually what drew me to applying for an internship with the department; the opportunity to learn how to provide access to a high quality educationfor all students who want it.

From the very first day with the International and Foreign Language (IFLE) Office, everyone welcomed me as a member of the team and genuinely expected me to make a contribution. I hit the ground running, working on a data visualization project that illustrated the impact of IFLE’s grants around the nation and the world.

The experience helped me better understand the incredible reach of just one division in one office and made me realize that the work interns do at ED is not trivial – it is integral to the planning, policy, and innovation responsible for carrying out the mission of the department. I eventually got involved in several highly significant projects for IFLE, including the creation of a webinar series that connects institutions receiving grants and encourages them to collaborate with each other to leverage funds and maximize production.

But the work—meaningful as it was—was only a small part of what made my experience so special. Everyone I met, from program officers to Arne Duncan himself, helped me grow, both as an employee and a person. My supervisors talked with me about my ambitions, hopes, and struggles regularly, not because they felt obligated, but because they truly cared. Their dedication to their jobs and their fellow employees is something I will never forget.

There are many reasons to consider interning at the Department of Education, but perhaps none is more worthwhile than being a part of something bigger than yourself. The important work done here—helping provide access to a high quality education, and thus, building opportunity—changes lives. It has certainly changed mine.

Ernest Ezeugo was a summer intern in the International and Foreign Language Education Office of OPE.


  1. As a staff member in the ED office where Ernest interned, I can fully attest to his enthusiasm, which oftentimes seems to be a force of nature in and of itself, along with his infectious laughter. He is proactive and timely, has a genuine appreciation for life’s experiences (including internships), has a wonderful sense of humor, and doesn’t hesitate to take full advantage of opportunities presented. And did I mention that his work products are excellent? He is a shining star!

  2. Ernest is a firework everywhere he goes. His smile can easily brighten my day. I loved being around him for the short time that I was, and I’m very happy that someone with so much potential is dedicated to making a difference in the youth of our country!

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