Shannon Shevlin  FALL 2017

Shevlin

Internship
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Where are you from?  Why did you choose JMU?
I am from Manassas, Virginia. I chose JMU because: (1) it’s the perfect distance from home/ Less than two hours was far enough but not too far. (2) the culture is unmatched. It wasn’t my top pick until I visited and saw how beautiful the campus was and how friendly/happy everyone on campus was.

Why did you decide to participate in Washington Semester?
I’ve always been pretty ambitious, wanting to excel in all areas of my life from academics to extracurriculars. I learned quickly after getting to JMU that, with the necessary skills and support I was getting from my education here, I could start to tackle my professional goals too. I heard about Washington Semester as a sophomore and immediately thought it was a fantastic opportunity to not only jump-start my career but also just explore my professional interests and find out what I actually like in my field of study.

What were the highlights of your internship?
One of the most memorable highlights of the internship was the fact that I was constantly surrounded by amazingly intelligent and motivated individuals. From a deputy U.S. attorney general to some of the best securities lawyers in the country, I found it to be incredibly rewarding to have the privilege of interacting with these people on a daily basis. Furthermore, the SEC has a very robust internship program that encourages students to grow and learn during their time there. I thoroughly enjoyed brown-bag lunches with professionals from diverse backgrounds and presentations tailored to interns on different topics. I was happy to have such a supportive, motivating, and interesting work environment.

What were the highlights of your Washington experience as a whole?
I think it was the people in the program that made my Washington experience so awesome. The small group of students who are so driven, smart, and hard-working turned into lifelong friends and memories I’ll never forget. I made some of my best friends in DC and some of the most memorable highlights of the semester include:  Seeing shows at the Kennedy Center (Aida, The Book of Mormon), Having “Fancy Day” (Tea at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Dinner at Café Milano), and enjoying a beautiful weekend in the city (outdoor events, museums, exploring new neighborhoods, etc.)

What advice would you offer to future Washington Semester students?
My advice to future Washington Semester students would be to get as far out of your comfort zone as possible! Chances are that everything about the program will be new, and potentially uncomfortable: living in the heart of a major city, doing an internship possibly for the first time, spending time/living with a small group of strangers, etc. But all growth happens outside of one’s comfort done and taking the risk and trying something new will always be rewarding and potentially life-changing.

What are your long-term career plans?
My long-term career plans are still up in the air (obviously) but right now I’m leaning toward the consulting/contracting/government relations side of things. I’ve done two federal internships now and enjoy the stability, balance, and meaningfulness of the work, but would like to explore the private side of things. Wherever my career path takes me, I know I want to work somewhere that helps people and contributes socially but also allows me to be challenged and work with people everyday.

Sydnie Kostelac SPRING 2017

Kostelac

Internship
Council for Court Excellence

Where are you from?  Why did you choose JMU?
I am originally from Charlottesville, Virginia. I chose JMU because I knew going into college that I wanted the opportunity to study abroad. I had never been out of the country before and that was something I knew I wanted to do while in college. JMU seemed to offer a lot of diverse programs from a wide range of majors and that was something I felt was unique to JMU and was not something offered in any of the other colleges that I toured. 

Why did you decide to participate in Washington Semester?
I chose the Washington Semester because I felt that the program was something that would make my resume more competitive upon graduating. I was not able to intern during the summers like most college students do, so I knew the Washington Semester program would allow me to intern and take courses at the same time. In addition, as a Political Science major, I have always had an interest in Washington DC as a place to move after graduating, and I wanted to get a taste of what it would be like to live in DC. 

What were the highlights of your internship?
One highlight of my internship was being able to work on projects with my supervisors and see the results from my work put into action in real-life situations. Researching and writing memos that were then used to help change real policy was an awesome experience. Another highlight of my internship was the connections that I got to make. My supervisors were really supportive of helping me and the other interns in the office network with other professionals in the field that I was working in.

What were the highlights of your Washington experience as a whole?
One of the highlights from my Washington experience as a whole was the diversity of activities that we got to do during the program. We went to plays, orchestra's, a Supreme Court hearing, attended lectures, saw a presidential inauguration, etc. I think the Washington Semester program does a real good job of trying to balance the "fun" events with events that align with the more academic sides of things.  Another highlight of my Washington experience was making friends with the other students in the program. I really appreciated the diversity in academic interests that everyone had and it definitely made living together and going to school together much more interesting than it would've been if we were back on campus. 

What advice would you offer to future Washington Semester students?
Forge true connections with the people that you meet -- whether it be at your internship, your friends from the program, your professors, or people you meet at networking events. You really should strive to make a positive, lasting impression on people. It's not about the number of people that you meet or the number of business cards you can collect at an event. Making a really great impression and working hard at your internship or showing your professors that you care about their assignments and you put thought into finishing them goes a really long way into how people view you and will have an impact on your future professional relationships as well. 

What are your long-term career plans?
I am currently working in the events department at a law firm in DC, but my long-term career plans involve doing some sort of project management or running my own non-profit. I haven't decided in what field but when I find out I will let you know!

Ruth Esther Johnson   FALL 2016

Johnson bw

Internship
U.S. Representative Ruben Hinojosa

Where are you from?  Why did you choose JMU?
I was born in Samaná, Dominican Republic.  I moved to the U.S. in 2007. I transferred to JMU from community college because I wanted to challenge myself. I needed to get out of the norm that we should go to school with people with a similar background; I wanted to make my own decisions regarding other people’s culture and personality.  At JMU, I discovered diversity at another level. Diversity is more than color and culture; it includes religion, political party, and beliefs. People within the same culture are different and that is something worth experiencing.

Why did you decide to participate in Washington Semester?
The Washington Semester is great opportunity to advance in your career and I would never let that opportunity pass me by.  Additionally, it is close to my hometown and I could spend time with my family. The Washington Semester gave me a life change experience, which I would never have if had stayed on campus; Frankly, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.   

What were the highlights of your internship?
The highlight of my internship happened during the final week.  I was called in the Congressman’s office to present some of my projects. I was very scared because I had completed some of the projects several weeks earlier and I was not prepared. Even though the Congressman saw this as normal, I felt out of my comfort zone, which is knowing my information. I was terrified when I went to his office, but I managed. Fortunately, all of the information I learned during the whole internship came to mind.  I defended my research and explained to him why he should pursue my project. Then, he asked me to convince him why should Congress fund those bills. I gave the Congressman an important perspective from a student and future employee. It was a great challenge that I managed well, which reminded me of my purpose on the Hill.

What advice would you offer to future Washington Semester students?
Do not be afraid. Washington is a great place to be, enjoy your internship, try your best and remember your goals. Always be proud of yourselves, and be ready for a new life.

What are your long-term career plans?
After I graduate from JMU I will go to law school. My goal is to become an international relations or business lawyer. I aspire to become a Supreme Court justice like Sonia Sotomayor.  If I become international relations lawyer, my expertise is going to be Latin America. However, if I decide to study business law, I will specialize on the private sector.

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