KateHello everyone! My name is Kate Virden and I’m a junior at Oregon State University with a major in English and a minor in French. I spent the summer in Washington, DC where I interned for a satellite trade association, took classes at George Mason University, and had a multitude of amazing experiences.

Through the OSU Career Services, I received an email about a program called The Fund for American Studies (TFAS).  TFAS is a primarily conservative program that has been based in the DC area for over 40 years with strongly established ties to businesses, think tanks, and organizations all across the nation’s capitol.

The Fund for American Studies is an amazing organization because it features several different programs catered to specific interests and all participants are guaranteed an internship in the heart of DC and quality classes.  I applied for the Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA) because it was calling my name with its promises of internships at businesses and trade associations, classes at George Mason University (GMU), and incredible site briefings.  I was so excited to go to DC to not only take classes, but to gain professional work experience in one of the most intern-friendly places in all of America.

If you don’t know already, you will soon learn that Oregon State University is on a term system, which meant I had to DCfinish classes several weeks early, and literally right after my last final; I hopped on a red-eye flight that finally brought me to DC.  I had no idea what was in store for me, but I didn’t know this summer could ever be so incredible.

I went to site briefings at the Federal Reserve and State Department and had small groups with the American Chemistry Council, US Telecom, Ford, TE Connectivity, and Siemens.  I went to a Capitol Hill site briefing and heard the words of two influential Representatives as I sat on the House Floor – an extremely rare experience.  Each event provided the opportunity to learn new ideas and broaden my own way of thinking.  I know how important it is to get educated on important issues affecting our businesses all across America.

I interned at the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) where many of the skills I’ve honed as an English major such as, business writing and communications skills were used and valued. Above all, my internship boss ended up being an amazing mentor by providing insight to life in DC as a young professional.

I fell in love with the rush of activity, political diversity, and the history of Washington, DC, and I can only hope to return someday.  One of the most valuable things I learned this summer was the importance of maintaining an open mind.  Many of the people I met in DC, classmates, roommates, and connections alike, who had different or similar viewpoints than me about the world, politics, or social issues all had the same trait: they were willing to listen to what others had to say.

I was blessed with this experience, but it also has endowed me with a responsibility to act accordingly.  I have returned to Oregon State University with the new ideas and vigor I attained in DC to try and make a difference.

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