By: Sean Nasi, DePaul University digital cinema major ’15
DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.
Arturo Chang, a political science major, who interned full-time at the United States Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C. this past fall. At ED, Arturo’s colleagues and superiors treated him not as an intern, but a full-time staff member. Arturo was given the privilege and responsibility to share his opinions and have his voice heard.
“I had just begun my new internship, and two hours later I was answering questions for the assistant secretary of education,” Arturo said. “It was a shocking experience at first, but it definitely made me feel appreciated and accountable for our successes and failures.”
Arturo enjoyed many aspects of working at ED, including the environment, which he described as a healthy balance between professional and friendly. He always felt comfortable asking his co-workers for guidance as needed to improve his skills. Through the internship program, Arturo improved his writing and communication skills by publishing articles for the Federal Registry for Education Excellence. He also learned the necessary leadership abilities to be successful in his industry, as he had to occasionally lead discussions and even provide advice to people with decades more experience.
Through the internship program, Arturo improved his writing and communication skills…
“This kind of treatment is not common at an internship level, and I appreciated the freedom to work on my own,” Arturo pointed out, who “would be given projects, priorities and expectations without a large amount of direction or overview.”
“ED gave us opportunities to tour the White House, the Supreme Court, and the Capitol Building, and would even organize networking socials at bars in Washington,” Arturo said. These field trips expanded Arturo’s network of connections in Washington. Additionally, the experience allowed him to voice his passions for education at the highest branch of government.
“Understanding how policy functions at the federal level is incredibly useful, and I now feel more prepared to tackle issues at the city level,” Arturo said. He believes the skills he gained at ED will assist him in his current position at the Chicago Board of Education.
Arturo found the internship opportunity after searching the Department of Education’s website, and would strongly encourage anyone interested in the political sphere to check out the opportunity. However, Arturo warns that students shouldn’t expect to be handed a ton of responsibilities right away. “When you work at high-level institutions, you need to prove yourself,” he says. “Use your judgment, and leverage your abilities efficiently to show that you are a great worker.” By leveraging abilities and proving to be an exceptional worker, a student can expect to learn valuable career development skills, impress employers and expand their network of connections, and make a positive, long-lasting impact at their organization.
Want to learn about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.