In the fall semester of 2013, senior Chris Beckman had the opportunity of a lifetime to spend a semester interning with the Department of State in the Office of Civil Rights. Chris describes his experience as something completely different from any semester at Roanoke, because it was not just about an educational experience; it was beyond the focus of the classroom. Chris’ internship offered him amazing opportunities, but so did his coursework while he was in D.C. While Chris attended his internship Monday through Friday (with the exception of Wednesdays), he also took classes at night, which focused on global agendas, violence and values.
Though Chris knew that he wanted to participate in the Washington Semester Program, it was not without careful planning and numerous security background checks that Chris was able to secure this internship opportunity. More than a year ahead of his D.C. semester, he began his search on usajobs.com, the website created by the Obama administration to help recent graduates and undergraduate students find entry level and internship positions with the government. After reading about opportunities the State Department, Chris knew that this was something worth pursuing. After submitting numerous applications, Chris set up appointments to have his fingerprints taken, completed his background check, and then crossed his fingers. After months (yes, months) of waiting, he received notification that he had the internship!
Chris feels that his International Relations major prepared him to better interpret and learn from his hands on foreign policy internship. While in D.C., Chris observed numerous interactions between government officials and the State Department, which he says was really uplifting, because he had the opportunity to see firsthand different representatives working together for a common goal.
When I asked Chis if he would recommend the DC semester to other students, he said, “Yes! One will gain experience that he or she could not during a normal semester on campus. One will never be bored in DC, experiencing both the vast amounts of US history and the nightlife. I highly recommend this experience for anyone in the Public Affairs department and, actually, any student at RC who wants to learn outside the classroom.”