Students gain exposure through D.C. internships

Michelle Farabaugh

While college students across the nation search for internships this time of the year, Villanova students have the unique opportunity to seek a semester-long experience through The Washington Center.

TWC is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that gives students the chance to participate in a semester of multifaceted events. 

According to its Web site, it has served hundreds of universities, both in the United States and abroad, with professional and civic engagement opportunities in the nation’s capital since 1975.

Robert Blanchard, assistant dean for College & External Relations in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, noted the organization’s outstanding reputation and the University’s involvement.

“Villanova has been involved almost from the beginning [of TWC’s founding],” he said.

In addition to an internship, the program features an academic course and a leadership forum. Students also have the chance to explore the city of Washington in their free time.

Due to TWC’s location, it is of special interest to political science majors.

 However, the program is not restricted to any particular track of studies.

The program places students in fields such as nonprofit, business, media, criminal justice and international affairs, according to its Web site.

“Anyone who is interested in learning about [our nation’s] capital is welcome to participate,” Blanchard said.

Junior Ashley Stanojev is a communication major who spent last semester interning with the Financial Services Roundtable.

“TWC will send out your résumé to places that seem of interest to you based on the program you’re enrolled in,” she said. “Then, if the companies like your résumé, they will call to set up an interview. It was a great experience to go through the different interview processes of different companies –– especially because you have a say in which internship you participate in.”

Junior Peyton Onda, also a communication major, completed phone interviews with all but one of the companies she applied to before choosing Swanson Communications, a small sports-marketing and public relations firm. 

With the opportunity to develop her own campaign for an 11-year-old blind boy who competes in martial arts, Onda’s experience through TWC was life-changing.

“I learned more about public relations than I could ever learn in a classroom,” Onda said. “It really prepared me for professional life. Learning to live independently, make new friends and navigate a completely unfamiliar city was another learning experience in and of itself. I feel like I can tackle whatever is put before me because of the experience that I had.”

Another important aspect of the program is its commitment to molding students into leaders dedicated to improving their communities. 

TWC offers various lectures that feature industry leaders and requires participants to develop a civic engagement project.

Villanova’s dedication to public service meshes well with this component. 

In October, the University received an inaugural Higher Education Civic Engagement Award from TWC during the annual Academic Affairs Awards Luncheon.  

Cabrini College, Elon University, Tennessee State University and Wartburg College were also recognized for their efforts.

To apply for the award, a report was compiled to display an overview of Villanova’s active volunteerism, such as break trips, Balloon Day and the annual Day of Service.

As Villanova’s representative on the Liaison Advisory Board, Blanchard attended the gala.

Also in attendance were Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A. and five students who interned with TWC in the fall.

The University averts to maintain its ties with TWC.