Participated in: Fall 2009
Major: Economics & International Relations
Internship Organization: Heritage Foundation, Center for Data Analysis
Current Position: Program Analysis, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
LinkedIn: Danielle Green
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How has your experience with the Washington Program affected your career trajectory?
The Washington Program was the critical in driving my interest and focus on a career in public policy. I loved my experiences living in Washington DC, and discovered my interest in the policy formulation aspect of politics. Without this program, I would not have had the tangible experiences that pushed me to continue working towards a career in policy.
I began graduate school in 2014 to fill out my credentials, to hone my analytical skills, to broaden my perspective, and to prepare me for a successful career in public policy. I am now on track to begin a position with a federal agency via the Presidential Management Fellowship. Without my experiences from the Washington Program as an undergraduate at UC Davis, it is unlikely that I would have been as confident in my career goals as I am today.
Have your career goals evolved since your participation in the Washington Program?
Absolutely. The Washington Program helped cement my interest in public policy, but I did continue to explore work in the private sector. From 2011 to 2014, I worked in finance with Provident Funding, based in San Bruno. This was an excellent experience for me, and prepared my computational and organizational skills for a career in public policy. Ultimately, however, my interests have always been focused on working in government on policy issues.
Describe what you are currently doing, and how your experiences in DC relate to your current position.
I am currently a master’s candidate at the Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley. My decision to enter public policy was directly related to my positive experiences coming out of the Washington Program. Last summer I held a temporary position with the World Bank, performing research on agricultural policies in 40 countries from around the world. Today, I am preparing to enter a career in the Federal government. For me, the UCDC program opened doors professionally, and gave me the impetus to push into the field of public policy.
Do you have any advice for future Washington Program participants?
(1) Network: Washington DC runs on networking. Your work does not end with your internship, but continues in every group and organization that you can volunteer and mingle with. There are few avenues to advance in Washington without a firm networking base, and this is a skill that you should hone while you are there. Be aware that networking is more about building reliable friends and connections, rather than simply casting the widest net possible. Go deep, not shallow.
(2) Professionalism: Always maintain the highest degree of professional decorum. Even if other interns seem to be more relaxed, even if your direct supervisors don’t seem to care, be sure you remain poised, professional and organized. There is very little personal cost, and potentially huge gains, to maintaining your professional attitude.
(3) Paid vs. Unpaid Internships: This question will inevitably present itself during your application process. You should be compensated for the time that you commit to your organization. That said, many organizations that fail to compensate monetarily will help you advance your career through networking and connections. Be aware of these tradeoffs, and do not discount the value of a good experience.
(4) Affordability: Many undergraduates at UC Davis are cash-strapped, and cannot afford a full quarter unpaid in Washington DC. That said, there are ways to pursue this opportunity on a budget. Thrift shops are an excellent resource for building out a professional wardrobe on a budget. Craigslist yields affordable bicycles in the District, where you can then save on your commute, see the city, and ultimately re-sell the bike when done. Be creative in ways to save, and you should not face overwhelming financial challenges.
(5) Identity Politics: Washington DC is a high-powered, high-energy environment, and often it can be hard to reconcile the challenges of your daily routine (or lack thereof) with your own identity (race, ability, gender, etc). Recognize that many struggle with wedding their professionalism with their own identities, and that there are many resources to assist. Seek out others who are like you, and learn from their experiences. Don’t allow identity to overwhelm you in pursuit of your goals.