This fall, five North Central students were working behind the scenes in Washington, D.C. for organizations such as The Salvation Army, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Vital Voices, the Northeast-Midwest Institute and D.C. Law Students in Court.
Through a partnership with the Washington Internship Institute, students can take professional exploration to new heights as they navigate the nation’s capital.
“The Washington program provides students an opportunity to get off campus and experience something entirely new,” said Suzanne Chod, associate professor of political science and facilitator of the Washington programs at North Central. “Personal, academic and professional exploration are integral to a students’ growth, and going away from home and the comfort of campus aids in that process."
Students live in Crystal City, Va., just outside of Washington, and take the Metro four days a week to their internships. On the fifth day, students attend a seminar class as well as an internship course, giving them a chance to reflect on the experiences they are having at work.
“I am gaining hands-on experience at my internship site that I know will be useful for when looking for a job once I graduate,” said Katie Costenaro ’19, a religious studies major and volunteer and donation drive manager at The Salvation Army. “I am particularly interested in nonprofit business, so learning volunteer management and logistics at The Salvation Army will be incredibly helpful in the future and makes me a more appealing candidate to employers.”
The work these students conduct is important, and the networking opportunities are endless.
“In D.C., I’ve networked almost every minute of each day,” said Costenaro. “In fact, I met the president of a local nonprofit on my walk to the Metro and we connected on LinkedIn that week. I am very excited to see what doors are opened and what opportunities arise because of my semester here.”
Students completing an internship in Washington can receive supplemental funds for extra expenses. Tom Eimermann ’67, professor emeritus of political science at Illinois State University, was inspired to establish a fund to help students pay for commuting costs, airfare and entertainment.
While at North Central, Eimermann spent a semester in Washington that featured seminars from members of Congress, heads of federal agencies, White House staff members and a Supreme Court Justice and marks it as the highlight of his collegiate career. His story can be found in North Central’s alumni magazine.
The scholarship has only one stipulation: it has to be used outside the classroom. The goal is for students to take in the culture of the nation’s capital without worrying about the cost. Eimermann encourages students to visit museums on the weekends, go to Washington Nationals baseball games and enjoy their time in the city.
“Because of the scholarship, I have been able to explore Washington after work and on the weekends worry free,” said Costenaro. “There is so much to do here and the city offers so much; it is relieving to know I can experience this opportunity to its fullest.”
Current and prospective students interested in the program should contact Suzanne Chod at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Costenaro '19 poses mid-flight with the United States Capital Building