The rules for life after college have changed. Learn how you can help your child prepare for their future career.
Majors are no longer a direct path to a career. The options are wider. The competition is tougher. Hiring managers expect new hires, even at entry-level positions, to have some professional experience.
By participating in The Washington Center (TWC), your child will have the opportunity to fully dedicate one semester of their college education gaining that invaluable professional experience that will prepare them for their future careers and for life after college. TWC helps them shorten the path to their first post-graduate job, and allows them to stand out over other candidates.
Only one-third (34%) of students strongly agree that they will graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the job market. And just half (53%) believe their major will lead to a good job2017 College Student Survey of more than 32,000 college students
Our program offers the type of professional experience that hiring managers seek. At the same time, your child will receive academic credit while participating in the program, allowing them to graduate on time. For a semester or summer, they will put their classroom learning to work for businesses and organizations in Washington, D.C., allowing them to explore a wide range of opportunities and build a strong professional network that will accompany them throughout their professional careers.
For more than 40 years, TWC has been endorsed by over 400 colleges and universities across the United States that consider our program an extension of their campuses in Washington D.C. Universities trust TWC to offer their students a high-quality experience with the infrastructure and personal attention they've come to expect on campus. We have over 90 full-time staff dedicated to ensuring your child's well-being, professional development and growth while participating in the program.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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, cable, 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 Student Services 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 Mentors, 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 Student Services & 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.
D.C. ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the United States, but that doesn’t mean living on an intern’s budget is impossible.
We’ve been asking our interns how they save and what they typically spend during their time in D.C. Deciding what your weekly spending will look like depends on a variety of factors, but here are some tips and tricks of the trade to help you make a sensible budget that works for you!
Without a doubt, one of the most important expenses you’ll have as an intern: food! If you’re living in TWC housing, you’ll have a fully stocked kitchen with which to cook your own meals, which is a cost-saver in of itself. Dining out in D.C., while always tasty, can be expensive. One of the biggest cost savers we recommend is cooking your own meals at home as often as possible.
There are a few grocery stores within walking distance of TWC housing, all of which vary in price and selection. Spending on groceries depends on what you like to eat and what you like to cook (a bowl of spaghetti costs much less than homemade lobster thermidor, for example). Making a list before you go to the store is a great way to keep your spending in check, as well buying dry items (like pasta or rice) in bulk instead of as needed.
D.C. grocery prices may be higher than you’re used to, so we recommend budgeting between $25-40 a week on groceries.
Pro Tip: Consider splitting common grocery items with your roommates (eggs, milk, bread) instead of buying them each individually.
We imagine you’ll want to get out and about in the city as much as possible, and there’s no better place to be out than in the capital!D.C. is a place where there’s something for everyone, and there’s entertainment options to suit every wallet. Most of the traditional tourist stops in D.C. won’t cost you a thing.
Access to all the Smithsonian museums are free of charge, as are tours of the White House, Supreme Court, and the Capitol (though getting inside these buildings may require some advanced planning).
But, there’s so much more to do in D.C. than touring monuments and museums. D.C. also has a huge network of public parks to hang out in, festivals to attend, and free events to check out.
Of course, not everything is free. D.C. has plenty of splurge worthy events as well, like a show at the Kennedy Center, a concert at The Anthem or the 9:30 Club, a scenic cruise on the Potomac, or a tour of one of many private museums in D.C.
We recommend budgeting $25-30 a week for entertainment since your spending will vary week to week.
Pro Tip: It never hurts to ask if there’s a student discount available.
D.C. has lots of public transportation options for you to choose from. While most students opt for the metro, the bus, capital bikeshare, and ride sharing services are all great ways to get around town.
Metro fares vary based on how far you’ll be travelling (here’s an outline of how it works), but it’s likely if you’re internship is downtown you’ll be spending under $2.75 each way. A student spending ~$2.50 per ride, riding twice a day (to and from their internship) will spend about $20 a week getting to and from their internship (four days a week). Factoring in taking a few trips every weekend, expect to spend about $30 a week if you plan on taking the metro as your sole method of transportation.
Another option to save on travel is to take advantage of D.C.’s Metro passes which offer unlimited trips within a certain price point for a monthly fee. For the above scenario of up to $2.50 a ride, a monthly pass is $90 (about $22.50 a week).
Using rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft will raise weekly spending on transportation since they tend to be more expensive. Students should plan to use Uber and Lyft conservatively if they’re trying to save, but most students use it at least once a week, so adding, at least, an extra $10-15 to account for this is recommended.
D.C. has other affordable transportation options such as bikes and scooters, which you can read more about here.
All in all, we recommend budgeting between $30-$50 per week for transportation.
Resources: Metro’s Trip Planner to get a sense of what a student’s personal daily Metro cost would be.
Pro Tip: D.C. is one of the most walkable cities in the U.S. Keep this in mind when you’re plugging transit directions into your phone, it may be faster to just walk!
While we do recommend making ample use of your kitchen, we also recommend sampling some of the local cuisine. D.C. has recently become a haven for foodies, and there are fine meals to be had at every price point.
The occasional coffee run or lunch at a food truck tends to run students between $10 and $20 a week, though it’s easy to spend more or less than this. Cutting down this expense is easier said than done (especially if you’re within walking distance of the food trucks in Farragut Square, trust us) so be sure to account for this in your budget.
Students who go out to dinner tend to spend around $15 total on their meal (not including alcohol, which takes it to more like $20-25).
And, of course, we can’t talk about dining out in D.C. without talking about brunch. Bottomless brunches are all the rage in D.C., but can be pricey. Be prepared to spend $20-25 on a bottomless brunch (and be prepared to take a nap afterwards). If you’re looking to save, it’s best to make brunch a special event, but what could be more special than having breakfast and lunch in the same meal?
We recommend budgeting between $35-$50 per week for eating out in D.C.
Pro Tip: A high price tag doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a restaurant you’ll enjoy, always read the Yelp reviews and the menu ahead of time!
Living in an urban area and being young adult has a lot of hidden expenses that won’t be obvious until you’re swiping your credit card. Don’t forget to set aside some money for unexpected purchases. You’ll never know when you need to pop into CVS for some cold medicine, or you need to pick up a new umbrella because you left yours on the metro.
We recommend budgeting between $15-$20 per week for incidental expenses.
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. Be prepared to be flexible about your spending in your first few weeks while you get your bearings.
You don’t know how valuable a professional network is until you start establishing your own.
You don’t know what your strengths on the job are until you have a firsthand trial run. You don’t know you’re career ready until you see what career readiness entails. You don’t know who you’ll be in the workplace until you’re in the workplace.
Getting a post-college career started can feel foreboding. It requires you to be aware of who you are, what you want to do and how to navigate a professional environment. That’s where The Washington Center’s professional development programming (also known as LEAD Colloquium) comes to the rescue.
LEAD targets everything mentioned above, and more. It is a journey of awareness that commands you to think critically and act constructively. LEAD provides the tools and resources that help you identify, build and improve your personal brand, delivering what you need and what will benefit you long-term as you launch your career.
Leadership | Engagement | Achievement | Development
LEAD is an individualized experience of professional development—unique and tailored for you—which prompts you along the right career trajectory through self-evaluation and skills progression. It complements your internship and evening class to expose you to the wealth of personal, professional and academic experiences offered by TWC’s academic internship program.
Here’s a small snapshot of what LEAD Colloquium highlights:
- Informational interviews
- Strengths assessment
- Career readiness portfolio
- Resume building
- Capstone reflection
While there are some universal aspects—for example, a strengths assessment, resume building, networking—each intern’s LEAD Colloquium is special. By offering options that fit specific needs and interests, you will determine what LEAD helps you become.
Take, for example, networking. Building a network of professionals is a critical skill that will pay dividends from Day 1 up through your retirement party. While your school may be able to connect you with fellow alumni, being in TWC’s internship environment encourages you to meet and work with an array of professionals. As a result, your professional network diversifies and expands exponentially. A strong, diverse network might be your in for referral, a knockout reference or even notify you of new skills you should know your industry prizes.
One of the ways LEAD promotes networking is through informational interviews with people in a field of interest or an area you want to know more about. Think about it as being able to interview your future self. Along with broadening your network, these exercises also nudge you out of your comfort zone to encourage personal, as well as professional, growth.
Through LEAD, you’ll discover, learn and grow thanks to practical experience. You’ll learn how to navigate a professional workplace, make lasting connections and apply everything toward a successful plan for life after college.
After you have left D.C., and for the remainder of your career, you’ll have an abundance of skills and life hacks to serve your professional life. And you’ll know when you have what it takes to become the professional we know you can be.
Had I not been assigned to conduct informational interviews, I would not have taken those skills to connect with successful professionals back home, such as my mentor or the contact that led to my job at Adobe.Jose Andres Camacho ‘16, Florida International University
Another area LEAD truly delivers is workplace dynamics. For many, their TWC internship will be their first foray into the workforce. There are rules, spoken and unspoken, that govern a workplace setting, as well as situations and scenarios that may pop up that everyone seems to get except you. How are you expected to successfully navigate an environment you’ve never experienced? You should know your way around because your coworkers and supervisors will notice and evaluate how you are to work with.
LEAD places a special emphasis on assisting you through this type of first job experiences. You’ll get to know not only the workplace dynamics of your organization but also those of others in your group. The goal here is to accelerate your familiarity while finding the right type of organization, position and duties that fit you.
A lot goes into building your professional identity. And piecing everything together, considering it holistically and making sense of it all could be a full-time job unto itself. But don’t worry, you won’t have to do it alone. Your TWC LEAD instructor is with you every step, providing guidance and helping you make the most of your time in D.C. At the end of your experience, you will leave with a clear idea of how you want to market yourself in the professional world upon graduation and know you are ready for your next step.
When I had a problem or challenge at my internship I would ask my LEAD Instructor. I also looked for advice and asked what I could do to address it. It’s a great resource to help you through anything that may come up during your internship.Josette John ‘18, University of the Virgin Islands
If you’re currently asking yourself, “What’s NoMa, and why am I going to be there?” this will explain everything!
For starters, NoMa means ‘North of Massachusetts Avenue,’ and it is where TWC’s Residential and Academic Facility, known fondly as the RAF, is located. The RAF is where you’ll live and interact with a community of fellow interns during your time in Washington, D.C..
NoMa is also one of the most rapidly developing neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., so there’s a good chance that by the time you leave D.C. you’ll see a new apartment building, coffee shop or store open up. So, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to what the neighborhood has to offer.
- TD Burger and Indigo – These two are impossible to miss...literally, they’re right across the street from the RAF. TD Burger has exceptional fries and burgers, and if you’ve got a late night craving for Indian food, Indigo is your place. Plus, if the weather is nice, both restaurants offer amazing outdoor seating.
- Union Market – This open market and food hall has been up and running for nearly 200 years since its began as Centre Market. Whether you’re in the mood for a poke bowl, shawarma, ice cream, or fresh produce, Union Market will have you covered with all of its vendors and markets at various price points. Location: 1309 5th St. NE, about a 10-minute walk from the RAF
- Roti – Think of Chipotle but for mediterranean food, and you’ve got Roti! With vegan and gluten free options, this delicious food chain is affordable and offers a great atmosphere. Location: 1275 1st St. NE, about a 10-minute walk from the RAF.
- La Colombe – This joint comes with a little bit of a price tag compared to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, but the occasional latte or cappuccino is well worth it! Location: inside of the REI building on 201 M St. NE, about a 4 to 5-minute walk from the RAF.
- Ebenezers Coffeehouse – If you’re looking to drink coffee for a cause (and hear live music on some nights), look no further than Ebenezers. Owned and operated by the National Community Church, all of its profits go toward local and national community projects. Location: 201 F St. NE, about a 10-minute walk from the RAF.
- Peet’s Coffee and Tea – If you’re looking for a daily cup o’ joe that will run you around the same price tag as Starbucks, this is your place. They have a mean drip coffee and cold brew that will get your morning off to the right start. Location: 1275 1st St. NE, it’s about a 9-minute walk from the RAF.
- H. Street Corridor – Whether you’re looking for a boutique workout facility or some fun nightlife, H St. is the place to be. The best and most lively part of the corridor runs from 4th St. NE through 15th St. NE.
- Union Station – This massive (and historic) space serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it’s the gateway to the East Coast with its MARC and AMTRAK train lines, as well as a D.C. metro stop. But did you know it also includes a mini-mall, which features stores such as H&M, Ann Taylor, Uniqlo and Walgreens? There are also several food options ranging from the salad chain Chop’t, to Pizzeria Uno and Chipotle. Location: 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE, about a 10 to 15-minute walk from the RAF.
- Gallery Place / Chinatown – Have a sudden urge to go bowling, catch a movie, or splurge at Bed Bath & Beyond? Get off at the Gallery Place-Chinatown metro stop on the red line, and see everything that downtown D.C. has to offer. Also, if you’re ever going to catch a concert in D.C., odds are you’ll make your way toward the Capital One Arena (formerly known as, and still affectionately referred to by locals, as the Verizon Center).
- Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) – Ever wondered what the highest court in the nation looked like on the inside? Now’s your chance to find out! Although SCOTUS doesn’t offer guided tours, there are plenty of things to see, and you can even sit in on a live proceeding. Seating is awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis. Location: 1st St. NE, about a 25-minute walk from the RAF.
- Library of Congress – Did you know you could get a free library card to the oldest federal cultural institution in the country? It’s true! Take a one-hour tour of the Library, and then ask your tour guide to direct you to the right place so you can register for a card. Location: 101 Independence Ave. SE, about a 25-minute walk from the RAF.
- United States Capitol – Located at the origin point for all of D.C.’s street grid system, the Capitol is home to the chambers for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. You can schedule a public tour through the Capitol Visitor’s Center (CVC), or by calling your Member of Congress’ office and requesting a tour – yes, it’s all free! The entrance to the CVC is located at East Capitol St. NE and First St. NE, about a 25-minute walk from the RAF.
Now you know where to eat; where to drink the best coffee; where to see the best sights, and where to experience the best parts of the city – all within walking distance of the RAF. Before you know it, NoMa will become your neighborhood, and D.C. will become your very own classroom. Get ready!
Washington, D.C. is a networker’s paradise. Opportunities to meet or get together with other professionals are everywhere. On any given day, there are special events, lunches, happy hours, etc. to choose from, each focused on placing people into proximity for the sole purpose of meeting and learning from one another.
To nurture your flourishing career, there’s no other aspect of professional development that provides as much value to your post-college career than networking and no place better to network than D.C. Here’s why.
D.C. thrives on networking
Washington, D.C. is built upon relationships developed by networking. Those handshakes, business card exchanges and small talk with strangers about who you are and what you do that are the foundation to constructing your professional network. People want to network with (and have in their network) good, reliable contacts. Those who are in it for the mutual benefit, not for self-promotion. The truly valuable connections will lead to a second meeting where people have a more thorough talk over a coffee, cocktail or lunch.
D.C. networking is an investment
Though it is only one avenue of career development to examine, networking is one of the best undertakings a young professional can make and there’s no better city to do that than Washington, D.C.
Deliberately making professional connections could very well be the step that leads to a first job, but certainly will be important for that third or fourth stop on the trajectory of a chosen career.
Any time invested in getting to know a person here could prove integral. Whether it is to get a job or to do it well, a network is essential to your success.
D.C.’s most prominent industry shapes everyone’s networking
Not everyone in D.C. is involved in politics. Though it is undeniably the most prominent industry in the nation’s capital, a great many of the professionals in town are not working in that realm. Politics does, however, drive a consistent tide of new people and ideas into D.C. following each election cycle. As a result, D.C. is a renewing, often youthful city. Each iteration infuses the city with a zeal to connect and learn. Another bonus is there’s always a fall back topic that everyone here can discuss. Even if their job is absent any political responsibilities, someone in their family, friend or network is immersed in it and they have an opinion to share about it.
D.C. has got your networking covered, wherever you belong
D.C. is awash with think tanks, nonprofits, associations, clubs, colleges, meetups, coworking, volunteering - any niche you can imagine is available and open for exploration. There’s even a networking group focused solely on networking! Each entity has its own networking event schedule. Also, organizers of these networking events are well-connected and usually open for volunteers to work the event, which they fold into their networks for introductions.
D.C. appreciates authentic networking
There tend to be some misconceptions as to what networking is all about. The act of networking may appear transactional, but it is not to be diminished or done selfishly here. Remove the notion from your mind of a disingenuous, cutthroat schmoozer looking to use others to their advantage. That person may be around - the type that is always looking over your shoulder for a bigger fish or looks for how you can help them without helping you - but they are discovered and dismissed. D.C. functions due to its networks. Thus, it is important that connections in an individual’s network be trustworthy because it reflects back on that person and their reputation.
The saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” breathes D.C. air.
Through all the turnover D.C. experiences, the pursuit of connecting and helping remains constant. As long as new people arrive periodically, that desire will reverberate.
It is up to you to capitalize on this unique opportunity and extraordinary city. Be collaborative, even when you are just starting out. You have growth potential. Go out of your way to make connections, be trustworthy and helpful and your network will pay it back, over and over.