A Day in the Life is a Campus Times series highlighting the studies and lives of UR students. Answers have been lightly edited for grammar, clarity, and/or style.

Sophomore Angel Alfaro is a Political Science major with a cluster in Sustainability. CT interviewed Alfaro to learn about how the Washington Semester functions, what their experience has been like applying and going through with the programming, and what advice they have for prospective applicants.

What’s a typical day like in the Washington Semester program?

Since I work virtually, my day-to-day differs from some others living here in DC. I work for the National Association for Latin Elected Officials (NALEO), which is the leading non-profit, non-partisan organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. On workdays, I’ll wake up and make my breakfast, hop on my computer and get started on any immediate tasks I have for the day. Throughout the day, I’ll attend Zoom meetings, whether they be with my supervisor, co-workers, or other partner organizations as we discuss ways to modernize Congress and fix issues with the USCIS and Census Bureau. After work, I’ll make dinner or take a stroll outside and explore the city. 

What was the application process like to join the program?

The application process can be split up into two parts, applying to the program and then applying to internships. Applying to the Washington Center’s Academic Internship Program consists of writing up an issues essay (which is essentially a short essay outlining the key issues you’re interested in and how that applies to your future career), a statement of professional interest (which outlines what you’re looking to get out of your internship), and a one-page resume. You’ll also need to submit a letter of recommendation and a transcript. Luckily, there are many resources on the University’s campus to help you compile these materials, like Professor Stuart Jordan who works in the Political Science Department, and Libby Ennenga, who serves as the Washington Center’s Enrollment Liaison at the University. After you’ve been accepted into the program, you’ll start applying to a minimum of seven internships (which is way less strenuous than it may sound). From those seven, you’ll begin interviews and eventually decide on which one suits you best. 

What are you focusing on during your semester when it comes to your internship and the course you’re taking as a part of the program requirements?

Overall, I’ve decided to focus on networking and really building connections with the people I meet, whether it be through my internship, or the course I’m taking as a part of the program, which is Forensic Psychology. 

What made you choose to apply to the Washington Semester?

I’ve always recognized the importance of experience and connections, especially when it comes to the job search after college. Once I heard the Washington Semester was the perfect way of obtaining both, I didn’t find much of a reason to, at the very least, not try and apply. 

Are there certain ways in which the Washington Semester has been similar or different to what you expected? 

Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting much before arriving. I figured it’d be a pretty dull semester consisting solely of working and staying at home most of the time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the apartment I’d be staying in is absolutely gorgeous and decked out, and my roommates have been fantastic and we find ourselves having lots of fun, even on nights when we just stay in and do nothing. Plus, public transportation has allowed me the freedom to go anywhere I want, so it never has to be a dull day. 

What’s been your favorite part of the program thus far?

My internship has been the highlight of my day every work day. Since I work virtually, I had assumed that connecting with my coworkers would be difficult through a screen, but their kindness and joy and willingness to help the Latino community really shines through everything they do. They’ve also been considerate enough to rope me into many projects and then give me the chance to choose where my interests lie and where I’d like to assist, so I always feel involved and a part of the team. 

What would you tell students considering applying for the program?

If you’re looking for an internship, or a networking opportunity, or even just to live in a really nice apartment for a semester and get some credits out of it, I would highly recommend it. The Washington Center has treated me well and I don’t regret applying for a second. It’s been an amazing opportunity and one I know will also serve me well in my future endeavors and career.

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