How many interviews should I expect to conduct as part of my pre-arrival process?
Students typically interview at two to four different organizations. Some students enjoy their first interview and accept a position shortly there after, while others interview at many before accepting a position.
What type of questions will I be asked during my interview?
Check out some of the most Common Interview Questions in this document.
What resources are available if I am not experienced in interviewing?
Here are some Basics of Phone Interviews. You can also sign up for a mock interview with one of our internship advisors, who will provide you feedback about your interview. Your internship advisor will send you the link to sign up for this opportunity once you start the advising process.
What tips do you have for professionalism in communicating with internship sites?
Make sure you know where your inboxes are. Many emails from new internship sites get trapped in Spam or Clutter. Make sure you’re familiar with and actively checking all these boxes.
Listen to your voicemail greeting. Haven’t checked your greeting since high school? Now is a great time to make sure your voicemail greeting sounds professional and won’t make prospective employers concerned!
Make sure your voicemail is set up and not full. There’s many times we can’t leave a message for students because they have a voice mailbox that is either not set up or is full. This just gives sites a good excuse to not contact you again!
Most importantly: Respond quickly. No one likes waiting for a response. The sooner you can respond to a site about your availability to interview, an outstanding offer, or additional questions, the better a chance you’ll have at securing that dream internship!
How long do I have to respond to outreach from an organization?
You should respond to all communications within one or two business days. Please check your email and voicemail at least once a day.
How often/when should I contact TWC?
We want to hear from you every time you have an update, such as did you receive an interview request, or did you get another offer? Let your internship advisor know! We're here as a resource to you, so let us know when you need assistance or have questions or concerns.
Can I still interview after I accept an internship?
Once you’ve accepted an internship, you should decline any outstanding interview requests and offers you may still have. Instead, ask if you can meet with these professionals for coffee once you’re here in D.C. It’s important to keep your networking options open.
What do I do if I receive multiple offers?
Acknowledge your multiple offers and then consult your internship advisor before making any decisions. We’re quite familiar with our site partners and can help you make a decision about which organization is right for you, based on your specific needs and goals.
How should I dress for my internship?
Once you accept an offer and are placed at an internship, you should reach out to your supervisor to ask about the office dress code and first day instructions. If you are ever in doubt about how to dress for any professional event, it is your best bet to dress business professional (a suit and tie for men, a pant/skirt suit with blouse for women). It looks better to be over, rather than under-dressed.
What does “Out-of-Network” mean?
“Out-of-Network” refers to an internship site that does not currently partner with The Washington Center. Most of these internship sites require an external application, outside of TWC’s application process.
How do I know if a site is Out-of-Network?
To determine whether an internship site is a TWC partner or is Out-of-Network, please consult your internship advisor.
What are the requirements of an Out-of-Network site?
If you are securing an Out-of-Network internship, TWC needs to know the following information:
- Internship Site Name
- Supervisor Name
- Supervisor Title
- Supervisor Email
- Supervisor Phone Number
- Address of Internship Site
We also need to ensure that the organization will comply with TWC internship requirements:
- A Monday–Friday work schedule of approximately 32 hours per week
- Work schedule that ends no later than 6:00 p.m.
- Compliant with TWC internship start and end dates
- Completion of the Internship Agreement Form, which details rights and responsibilities of both intern and internship site
- A final evaluation of the internship
- If in-person or hybrid, offer you a minimum of 32 hours of work per week in order to receive academic credit; if virtual/ remote, offer you 20-32 hours of work per week
How long do I have to apply to Out-of-Network sites?
An Out-of-Network placement must be secured ten business days before that semester’s check-in date. Otherwise, we will work with our partner organizations to secure you an internship.
How will I know I have to do a background check?
Your internship advisor will notify you if you demonstrate interest in an internship site that requires a background check process. Your advisor will subsequently send you general materials regarding background checks. Once you are contacted by an internship site that requires a background check, they will then send you information about their specific process.
What sites require a background check?
Common sites that require background checks are the United States Marshals, Metropolitan Police Department, Peace Corps, and Voice of America. Most federal agencies also have some sort of clearance process. Other internship sites may require a background check depending on the specific position that is offered.
Who do I contact with questions about my background check?
When participating in a background check process, you will reach out directly to the internship site with updates and questions. TWC can only request updates and is unable to expedite or approve a clearance. However, you can always reach out to your internship advisor if you are unable to get in contact with your site.
What happens if I fail a background check?
If you fail a background check, don’t panic! Just notify your internship advisor that you were unable to gain security clearance. Your advisor will work promptly with our site coordinators to get you placed at another internship site that fits your needs and interests.
What does the background check process look like?
Every background check process is different; once a site is interested in your application materials they will reach out to you directly about their specific process. They may have you complete a background check initially or after a preliminary interview. Background check timelines can range from one day, to over a month, so it is essential that you keep up with deadlines and stay in close communication with the internship site.
Where can I intern?
TWC partners with hundreds of internship sites so that we can connect you to the opportunities that fit you best. View some of our partner internship sites and learn about the type of work you could do in our program guide.
How does the internship placement process work?
Shortly after you are accepted, you’ll take part in a session with your Program Advisor. Together, you will explore potential internship opportunities and discuss next steps in the internship placement process. Throughout the following weeks or months, you will submit your documents directly to internship opportunities that are of interest to you. Upon consideration from one of the employers, they will reach out to you and conduct an interview. You can expect to have one or several interviews, and once an offer is extended, you ultimately decide if you want to accept it or not.
What do I do when I receive an interview or offer?
If you’ve been reached out to by an internship site, respond professionally within one to two business days to acknowledge their outreach. You should also let your internship advisor know, so they can help you decide whether each opportunity is right for you.
How long do I have to decide to accept an offer?
Once you’ve been extended an offer, you should acknowledge the offer within one to two business days. If you are unsure about the offer, speak with your internship advisor, who can help you decide if the offer is right for you. Most sites will give you a timeline as to when they need to hear back with a final decision- you should try to make a decision within that timeline.
Can I renege on an offer once I accept?
Once accepting an internship, TWC does not allow students to withdraw their acceptance to take another position at a different site. We have found that changing internships once an internship has been accepted is unprofessional and is not in the best interest of the student.
What happens after I accept an offer?
Once you’ve accepted an offer, congratulations! You’ve secured an internship. Communicate with your new site supervisor about first day details: where to go, when to get there, who to report to, what to wear, etc. Stay in contact with them so you are both on the same page about the first day of your internship.
Can I intern at a governmental organization?
Unfortunately, interning at a governmental organization as an international student is not possible, but we have a wide range of organizations where you’ll have an equally valuable experience.
What happens when I accept an internship?
Once you have accepted a placement, we will issue your DS-2019 and DS-7002 visa forms (these forms are needed for your interview at the US Embassy). We will then send you an email with the following information to make your J-1 visa interview appointment at a US Embassy/Consulate:
- SEVIS Number
- Exchange Visitor Program Number
- Exchange Visitor Category
When will my visa paperwork be sent to me?
Once you confirm your acceptance, we will start processing your DS-2019 and DS-7002 forms and send them to your internship. Once they have signed it, we can mail them to you.
How quickly will I receive my SEVIS ID after being placed?
Anywhere from 2-10 days, depending on how quickly your internship supervisor is able to complete you DS-7002 form. We will mail the package through priority mail, which is the fastest possible way to send these documents to you.
What address should my visa paperwork be sent to?
Your home address or an address where you can easily receive your paperwork. If your current address is different from the one stated on your online application, please email the correct address for sending the J-1 visa package to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have additional information about the visa process?
Please take a moment to look over the J-1 Pre-Arrival Guide in order to obtain a better understanding of the complete process. We will also have a J-1 visa orientation upon your arrival in DC that will provide a more in-depth explanation of the J-1 visa’s rules and regulations.
What are the cultural components of the program(s) for international students?
Participants typically live on-site at TWC housing facilities in suite-style apartments alongside their American peers. This shared living environment fosters daily cross-cultural experiences. Additionally, throughout their time at The Washington Center, participants take part in several structured cultural exchange opportunities such as local site visits, field trips to nearby cities and cultural festivals.
Will I need travel insurance?
The State Department requires that all J-1 visa holders have health insurance that covers for sickness or accidents during their entire program period. The Washington Center can recommend local health insurance providers, policies may be purchased online for approximately $50 per month. For more information, please contact email@example.com and review the J-1 Visa Pre-Arrival Guide for important insurance requirements.
What makes The Washington Center internship program worth it? What do students gain from the experience?
Students in the Academic Internship Program (AIP) intern in Washington, D.C. alongside a cohort of their peers, living and learning together. TWC interns make invaluable networking connections, acquire resume filling skills and assemble a portfolio of actual work samples and experiences needed for future job interviews.
Living in a city like Washington D.C. offers them access to invaluable contacts in the professional world, since D.C. is a city that centers around networking. In many circumstances, this professional network will lead to future jobs in D.C. and around the country.
TWC’s LEAD programming also develops soft skills that build career competencies that can only be earned through experience. Your child will work with an dedicated advisor who will help them create a professional brand and a plan for life after college.
What is the cost of The Washington Center? Is financial assistance available?
The Washington Center has both a program and housing fee, which varies based on when your child would like to participate. However, our fees are generally offset by financial assistance or through arrangements with your child's school. TWC is affiliated with more than 400 colleges and universities in the United States so that the cost of participation is the equivalent to the cost of a semester on campus. Since every school costs different, the final cost will depend on how the program works at your child’s specific college or university.
To ensure access to this unique, advantageous experience, we work hard to offer a number of private scholarships from our various partners, in addition to generous state funding for students from public institutions in select states. Your student may be eligible to receive funding made available for campus leaders, students from diverse backgrounds, members of honor societies and programs, students with disabilities and more.
We also recommend that your child check with the financial aid office on their campus before applying to the program, to see if their aid package can be applied toward TWC costs.
Are student interns covered by workplace protections?
Students interning through AIP are governed by the TWC Code of Conduct and our Internship Bill of Rights. While they are not employees at their respective internship sites, TWC enforces a zero tolerance policy on workplace harassment and other workplace-related issues. Our staff conduct a visit to every student's internship site once a semester to discuss and ensure their progress with both the intern and their supervisor.
TWC expects all of our students enter the AIP with personal health insurance to cover any illness or injury that may occur while they are here.
Will this delay my child's graduation?
Each of our college and university partners are required to offer credit hours/units for AIP. How many is dependent on the individual school. With proper planning, the credit hours/units received may not affect graduation timing. Always ensure that your child contact their TWC campus liaison prior to applying to discuss how many credit hours/units are available at their institution. If your child is unsure of who the campus liaison may be, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to provide the liaison’s name and contact information.
What is the housing situation? What safety measures are in place?
The majority of students live in TWC's Residential and Academic Facility (RAF), located in the thriving neighborhood of NoMa, or in a comparable building within close proximity. Our residences are considered "luxury-style apartments", and include fully furnished units with washer-dryer, fully equipped kitchens, TV, wi-fi and dishwasher. Apartments are primarily two-bedroom, two-bath units with a shared common space of living room, kitchen and dining area. All buildings offer a computer lab, fitness center, lounge. The majority of our academic and professional development programs take place at the RAF, so the majority of students do not have to leave the building at all to attend them.
Students may request a roommate when they submit their profile. For those students who do not select their own roommate, TWC pairs them based on a percentage of match indicated by the personality information they share in their profile.
Ensuring the safety and security of our students is a top priority for The Washington Center and the Housing and Community Life department. TWC housing complexes are electronic access only, featuring 24-hour front desk teams comprised of concierge and security staff with 100% ID checks. We also have dedicated staff who live in all our buildings, known as Alumni-in-Residence, who offer support 24 hours a day.
What materials are necessary for application?
Application materials for AIP consist of a resume, an issues essay, a statement of professional interest, a college transcript and two letters of recommendation. Each component fills a specific need in student evaluation. These materials are critical in matching the right student with the right organization.
My child has been accepted. What happens next?
Once accepted into the program, the student will be contacted by their TWC internship advisor. Together, they will work on determining what type of organization may be the right fit, revisiting the resume to ensure it stands out professionally and talking through any questions the student may have at this point about the process, D.C. life or other AIP components.
How much does it cost to live in D.C. for 10 or 15 weeks?
Living on an intern budget in Washington, D.C. is not impossible. Spending can vary widely, depending on what (and how much) a student chooses to get out and do while here. Keep in mind that the cost of housing is covered by the time your child arrives, so they should prepare a budget for the following expenses:
- Entertainment (movies, concerts, etc.)
- Dining out
Overall, we’d recommend you budget something between $115 and $170 per week for all your general expenses in D.C. No two people will spend money the same way. Everyone has different habits, means and priorities. It is important for students to be flexible about their spending over the first few weeks while getting their bearings. Smart budgeting for grocery shopping, dining out, transportation and entertainment will help students enjoy their time in D.C. to the fullest.
What organized activities or programs are there for the students to get acclimated to D.C.?
During move-in, orientation and opening weekend, the Housing and Community Life team, plus the Academic LEAD Instructors, work closely with the student body to acclimate them to the buildings, the neighborhood, and to the D.C. community. Our teams provide students with safety and security orientations for community and neighborhood safety awareness and a term called “urban common sense.” Additionally, events are scheduled on an ongoing basis to foster a sense of community and belonging. These events may include tours, metro sessions, small group meetings, floor introductions and more.