This winter I spent nearly 10 weeks as an intern for the U.S. Department of Education’s Press Office. As an undergrad studying political science and communications in my final year of college, my time here has been very rewarding. It may be cliché to say, but the people I’ve worked with at ED are genuinely interested in helping you make the most of your time here. Whether it is connecting you with people working in areas you may be interested in to resume editing and general career advice.
So how did I get here? As senior year rolled on by, I learned of an opportunity offered by my university to receive academic credit and an internship at Washington, D.C. From the outset, I knew that I wanted an experience that would help further my career in journalism, building upon what I have done at my school newspaper. I considered ED because it was the best fit for me. Although I wouldn’t be working for a news organization, I was able to see how a major federal agency handled interactions with the news media, allowing me a unique perspective on public relations.
Why should you intern at ED, you ask?
Well, if you are even remotely interested at all in education, here is the place to be. As a press intern, you literally get a front row seat on new education policy developments. I was able to sit in on press conferences and press calls right across from the Acting Secretary of Education John King as he informed the public about new announcements.
And there’s room to branch out! Although I was a press office intern, I wasn’t confined just to duties related to the Press Office. My supervisors were extremely supportive in helping to connect me with other people in the department that worked on issues I was interested in, even giving me the opportunity to work with the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders.
There were also a lot of opportunities for socializing. The intern coordinator at ED does an excellent job in promoting various activities with other interns. From Washington Wizards tickets to a tour of the Supreme Court, there are plenty of opportunities to meet new friends. Moreover, every week there are brown bag lunches where you can speak with staff members from various ED offices, even the Acting Secretary of Education himself!
As a press office intern, I was able to learn a great deal about education policies and I can certainly say that my ten weeks at ED have been hectic and action-packed. It’s hard to narrow down what I enjoyed the most. Not only will you be entrenched in current education issues but you will be able to learn from talented and passionate colleagues. I highly encourage anyone considering an ED internship to give it a shot. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to work at different offices while acclimating yourself to a high-paced environment that would be valuable to any career path you may follow.
Andrew Chao was an intern with the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education and is a Senior at the University of California, San Diego.
ED is accepting applications for Summer 2016 internships through March 15, 2016. Details on how to apply.