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Tri-Campus Off-Campus: Notre Dame students intern, take classes in Washington D.C.

| Thursday, December 2, 2021

College students are always busy, but Notre Dame students in the Washington Program balance a full time internship with classes while living in Washington D.C. for a semester.

Junior political science major Hailey Abrams spent her fall semester interning with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), gaining experience that she can tie together with her studies. 

Abrams is an intern in the ADL’s Government Relations, Advocacy, and Community Engagement (GRACE) team, a group that connects the ADL and its regional offices with Congress, one of the many opportunities that Notre Dame students were able to apply for as part of the Washington Program.

By day, Abrams sits in on hearings, meetings and political organizing work. By night, she attends classes in Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs in D.C. Accompanied by a handful of other Notre Dame students in a variety of different internships, Abrams’ courses included an introductory public policy class and two electives of her choice. 

“We have people interning on the hill, some people are interning with private companies, some people are interning with lobbying firms,” Abrams said. “You kind of get to choose your own adventure.”

Abrams’ chosen adventure starts each morning at 9:30 a.m., when she reviews upcoming events pertaining to her assigned congressional committees. She then spends her day working through various tasks, proofreading letters and listening to meetings.

Recently, her work has been focused on organizing senators by their stance on filibusters and working with lobbying organizations who have taken a stance on the filibuster, too. The team’s goal is to formulate the ADL’s response to the issue and work to have their interest reflected in Congress, she said. 

When the work day ends, Abrams’ work is far from over. In the evening, she spends a few more hours in her classes, which are taught by Notre Dame and University of San Francisco professors. Though the program is small, there are a mix of Notre Dame and USF students taking the courses together. 

A schedule like this might be intimidating for many, but Abrams said she appreciates being pushed out of her comfort zone.

“I’ve really learned how to balance my time a lot better, and I’ve learned what I want to do after college,” Abrams said. 

Time management and work experience are not the only benefits students like Abrams take away from their semester in D.C. While many students opt to apply for study abroad semesters in foreign countries, students in the Washington Program have the chance to take in all of the excitement, culture and opportunities of a major city in the U.S., while forming connections with peers in a small, close-knit cohort.

Abrams said some of her favorite aspects of her experience have been experiencing life in the city, trying new restaurants and meeting all different types of people. 

“I think a lot of people forget the [Washington Program],” Abrams said. “But I really think that the D.C. program and the internships and the friends that you can make are really, really important.”

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About Siobhan Loughney

Siobhan is a sophomore majoring in Economics. She comes from Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, but lives in Welsh Family Hall at Notre Dame.

Contact Siobhan