Certificate students jump-start their careers with internships in Washington, DC

The Wisconsin in Washington program offers UW–Madison undergraduates an opportunity to complete an internship while taking courses in Washington, D.C. to gain real world professional skills and experience in the workforce. This summer, six La Follette School certificate students participated in the program, applying their public policy education to their work in policy and government positions.

Juan Gutierrez

JP Gutierrez takes a selfie with a fountain and the US Capitol in the backgroundJuan Gutierrez is a senior majoring in political science and life science communications with certificates in public policy and history. This summer, he worked as an intern at Jubilee USA Network in D.C. During his experience, he gained insight on how a professional organization functions and the different processes that it takes to keep it running effectively. Gutierrez’s favorite project from his summer internship was creating a social media plan for the company, with freedom to use his own talents and knowledge to help improve their social media presence. Witnessing the nonprofit’s fight to get their policies passed on reducing sovereign debt in countries suffering from major debt crises showed him the amount of work needed to gain support, fight opposition, and pass policy. In the future, Gutierrez plans to go to law school.

Emily Widgren

Portrait of Emily WidgrenEmily Widgren interned with the Department of State and was placed at the Foreign Service Institute, which trains foreign service officers who act as diplomats in other countries on everything needed to do their jobs, including language training, security, and area studies. She is a senior majoring in political science with certificates in business and public policy. During her internship, Widgren learned a lot about international policy and governmental procedures. She had opportunities to sit in on classes with experienced foreign service officers, learn about new regions of the world, and witness the work of the State Department first-hand. Through the Wisconsin in Washington program, Widgren was invited to the Secretary of the Interior’s 4th of July rooftop party where students were able to watch fireworks and meet the Secretary and a panel of Wisconsin alumni who work in the White House. She also had the opportunity to attend the state welcoming of the Prime Minister Modi of India. Widgren’s D.C. summer experience offered her a unique way to experience government and public policy outside of academia. Having grown up in the Midwest, Widgren used this opportunity to engage with many diverse people and viewpoints, which brought the situations discussed in her classes to life. After graduating in May, she hopes to go back to D.C. to work in international policy or international public health, and in the future, she plans to become a foreign service officer.

Vela Sree

Portrait of Vela SreeVela Sree is a junior studying global health with certificates in health policy and data science. This summer, she worked as a public health and policy intern at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a nonprofit dedicated to ending tobacco deaths. During her experience, Sree gained invaluable insight that tremendously expanded her public and health policy education. She gained experience in advocacy and policy analysis in the nonprofit sector and learned about the difficulties of tobacco control regulations. Because the organization she interned with was small, Sree was able to collaborate with the highly knowledgeable directors, who were also very encouraging and inviting. One particularly memorable experience from her work was the opportunity to author a piece shedding light on the often-overlooked issue of tobacco addiction among women, published on the company’s website and shared through various channels. Sree says that her summer in D.C. and the mentorship she received has given her the confidence and passion to pursue a career in public health and policy. After graduation, Sree plans to continue working in the field, tackling critical global health challenges and improving outcomes for the public’s health.

Matt Masonius

Matt Masonius stands next to a sign for US Representative Gwen Moore's officeA senior majoring in political science and history with a certificate in public policy, Matt Masonius interned in the Office of Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Masonius’s internship experience taught him the value of diligence, resourcefulness, and attention to detail in the workplace. It offered a real-world public policy education in how federal legislation is crafted and how national governance is conducted that he would not have been able to receive in a classroom. One memorable experience he had this summer was being personally escorted by Congresswoman Moore to watch Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling from the gallery overlooking the house floor. In the future, Masonius would love to return to D.C. and become a full-time Congressional staffer.

Students who are interested in the Wisconsin in Washington program can find more information on the study abroad website. To connect with an advisor, students can reach out to Sara Lieburn (sara.lieburn@wisc.edu) in the International Academic Programs office or La Follette School director of career and employer services Marie Koko (marie.koko@wisc.edu). The deadline to apply to the summer 2024 program is November 17, and the deadline to apply to the fall 2024 program is March 8.

– Written by Clare Brogan

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