By the end of the semester, what can interns expect to take away from LEAD? With opportunities for both experiential and in-class learning, LEAD allows interns to become more career-ready in tangible ways.
LEAD stands for Leadership, Engagement, Achievement, and Development. For TWC interns, this means learning about and engaging in professional development activities. Interns have to complete assignments for LEAD, which are more than just homework - the work is designed to help you maximize your time in D.C.
During LEAD, interns spend a great deal of time identifying and writing about their strengths in the workplace. Knowing my strengths and being able to convey them in a clear, concise manner is useful while interviewing or formulating an elevator pitch. It’s also been helpful to write about my skills when drafting cover letters and resumes and updating my Linkedin profile.
By and large, the LEAD assignment I found most enlightening was conducting two informational interviews. Prior to LEAD, I had never formally approached someone I didn’t know very well and ask them to discuss their career path. If you’re introverted or a bit shy, it can seem a little strange and intimidating. A part of me also wondered: why would someone want to speak with me? What could I possibly offer them in return for their advice? Doubts quickly disappear, especially after interviewing early-career professionals who have been in our shoes quite recently. At the same time, don’t be afraid to talk to those with more experience or hold a higher position. Their insights on how they “made it” in their careers or thoughts on how the field has changed (or is changing) are valuable as well.
The LEAD assignment I found most enlightening was conducting two informational interviews. If you’re introverted or a bit shy, it can seem a little strange and intimidating. Doubts quickly disappear, especially after interviewing early-career professionals who have been in our shoes quite recently.
Interns participate in two Career Exploration Days and this semester included a host of options, including but not limited to: a diplomatic simulation at the State Department, think tank events, tours of law enforcement agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Drug, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), a free tour of the Newseum, and a networking reception for careers in international affairs.
On my first career exploration day, I got a chance to go to a museum already on my list of places to visit in D.C.: the Holocaust Museum. We focused on their new exhibition “Americans and the Holocaust” and had a discussion about the role of fear, stereotyping, and prejudice. These are heavy topics, but it’s important to facilitate these dialogues to better understand why and how major events in history like the Holocaust could happen and would be useful to anyone, particularly interns who want to work in politics, advocacy, or education. For my second career exploration day, I went to the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and learned more about the Center’s mission of highlighting underreported stories. Afterward, the group had an intimate Q&A session with Politico foreign affairs correspondent, Nahal Toosi about her work covering politics in. D.C., the Rohingya refugee crisis, and more.
The final project for LEAD is compiling all assignments and relevant experiences into a portfolio through the digital platform, Portfolium, which can be accessed and added to after your internship ends. The portfolio can be shared with potential employers and social networking sites and is an efficient way to proudly display all the hard work done during your time at TWC!
My LEAD instructor gave our class a piece of simple advice at the beginning of the semester: students who get the most out of LEAD are the ones who put in the effort. So keep this in mind, and you can be sure to make LEAD a meaningful experience.