Caroline Rutten

Caroline 1

Caroline Rutten


Internship: Public Affairs for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Pentagon)
Participated In: Summer 2019

Tell us about your internship. What kind of work did you do? What did you find rewarding?
The work I did at the Pentagon varied each day, which made the internship especially engaging. I prepped senior leaders for press engagements, wrote press releases, attended senior leadership meetings, completed media analysis research projects, and more. My most significant achievement was creating an engagement plan for the Department of Defense's sexual assault policy. I even got to present my engagement plan to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, who was able to give me feedback. My engagement plan will be used to help direct future media engagements regarding sexual assault in the military.

CarolineHave your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how?
This was the first time I worked in a public affairs office, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. As someone who has envisioned myself entering journalism or a similar field in media, my internship introduced me to another career path that could use my writing skills in a similar yet different way. I loved the creativity, fast-paced nature, and strategy that is involved in public affairs; I can really see myself wanting to pursue this career further.

Share an exciting memory from your internship – something unexpected, an accomplishment, someone you met.
My internship happened to occur during a series of senior leadership transitions — including the Secretary of Defense. During my time at the Pentagon, I had the opportunity to be involved in presswork regarding Mark Esper's confirmation, attend his Senate confirmation hearing, as well as work at his first press conferences and meetings with both the press and public.

Did your internship lead to any opportunities?

My internship has given me various personal connections, a letter of recommendation from the Director of Public Affairs, and various memories I continue to think of fondly. My co-workers and I continue to email to say hello!

Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc.
The access to free Smithsonian museums was a highlight of my Washington DC experience; friends and I were able to learn something new each weekend. The African American Museum was a clear highlight. As I walked through four stories that reflected on the historical treatment of the black diaspora, I was grateful that such impactful information is available to the general public.

How has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you?
While living in Washington DC, I was surrounded by thousands of young people, all committed to progress, change, and innovation. Juxtaposed with hundreds of years old monuments and American history in one area, I was positioned in a space that allowed me to both reflect on our country's history while envisioning how to make a better future.

Do you have any advice for future UCDC students? 

Always say yes! There is so much to do, explore, and learn in this city!