The Washington Center, also known as TWC, has helped over 60,000 students navigate the start of their career in Washington, D.C. By providing outstanding internship and professional development experiences, the organization has maintained a record for being the largest, most established student internship program in D.C.
TWC and Emerson College are partnered in providing students with the Washington, D.C. Program, an opportunity for students to spend their Fall semester in the nation’s capital while pursuing a full-time internship. While the city offers many opportunities centered in politics, TWC offers a start to a variety of career paths across many industries.
As the organization opens applications for Fall 2021, our office connected with TWC’s Manager of Institutional Partnerships and Admissions, Mariel Shilling, to learn more about this exciting opportunity for current students.
Can you describe the partnership between Emerson and TWC?
Mariel: “Absolutely. We have been working with Emerson since 2008. Every Fall we have a cohort of Emerson students come on the program. Last year we actually revamped the program and we created a custom program for Emerson students to really fit in with the student population we saw.
Now an Emerson student who comes into our program will intern five days a week in a full-time internship. Students will take two academic courses, one with The Washington Center and a virtual course with Emerson. They also have access to one-on-one career advising. The goal of the program is to give students experience and to also provide them with tools and resources needed to build a network and prepare for the next step after finishing the program.”
How would you describe the culture of working with The Washington Center?
Mariel: “TWC is a program that is open to all students. I think at Emerson there is a myth that this is only open to Political Communication students, but we work with students of all majors.
What’s great about our program is that it’s a residential program. Every student who’s coming to Washington, D.C. and living in our housing facility is doing an internship program with us. They’re all new to the city and looking to explore. They’re all starting off their careers.
You already have a built-in support system and network right there. I know I did the program when I was an undergraduate and I still have friends and connections from that time. It really is a supportive culture where all the students are looking to take that next step in transitioning from their classroom to a career.”
What are some of the opportunities available to students within the program?
Mariel: “The Washington Center partners with about 400 different internship sites. We have a lot of option and variety.
When a student is accepted into our program we work with them one-on-one. You’ll have an advisor you meet with to talk about your goals, your interests, the experience you might already have, and what you are looking to gain. Based on that, we’ll send your application materials out to our site partners. You’ll interview and then you’ll be the one to choose which internship is the right fit. I pulled some examples from this past semester. We had Emerson students at:
- 50 State
- Millennial Action Project
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- The Hill
We also have a lot of great opportunities for students interested in Marketing or the Arts such as The Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art, Bravo Group, Public Allies or Stuck in the Sand. There’s really a wide variety depending on students’ majors and interests. Right now we’re recruiting for our Fall 2021 students. In that process, during this semester, students will be doing the application process. Starting later in the semester and in early Summer, students will start meeting with our team to be matched with internship sites.”
How has COVID-19 affected your work?
Mariel: “With COVID-19 we had to adapt for safety reasons and to adapt to the changing workforce. Now we have a few in-person internship opportunities, but we also have a lot of students interning in a hybrid capacity. They might go in 1 or 2 days a week and intern remotely the rest of the week. We have some students interning fully remotely.
We did work very closely with Emerson College this past Fall to approve our safety measures. We were actually, as far as I’m aware, the only off-campus, residency program that still ran last semester. We did have a cohort of students in Washington, D.C. As I mentioned, some were interning in person and others were doing it hybrid or remotely. They still got to experience the city in this pandemic capacity.
Looking into Fall 2021 it’s hard to tell what that’s going to fully look like. Our hope is that there will be more in-person internship opportunities, but we’re staying in close contact with Emerson and looking at the public health situation to decide what’s going to happen.”
What are some of the skills or skillsets you look for in applicants?
Mariel: “I think the students who are most successful in TWC programs are ones who are motivated, determined, and really at that point where they are looking to build a career and network, so they’re going to put the work in to do that. We appreciate students who are flexible and who are open to interviewing at multiple organizations and exploring what’s out there.”
Want to learn more?
The Washington Center works closely with Emerson’s very own, Professor Vincent Raynauld. Students interested in the program are encouraged to visit Emerson College’s site about the Washington D.C. program and to contact Professor Raynauld directly.
The Career Development Center will also have a pair of opportunities to speak with TWC directly, including our upcoming Spring Internship Fairs. See below for upcoming events with TWC.