July 22, 2013—After the initial excitement of landing a coveted (and often unpaid) internship, many students must find a way to spend the summer in Washington, DC. This summer, ten undergraduate fellows are receiving free Georgetown housing and a stipend to support their internships.
The summer fellowship program was founded by the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) in 2008. According to former GUSA treasurer Fernando Gentil (F’09), GUSA members wanted to devote funds to a program with long-term benefits and fill a gap they saw on campus: available summer housing and unpaid interns. In the last four years, the program has evolved into joint venture with the Georgetown Scholarship Program (GSP).
Fellows are selected by the program’s student director and GUSA executive members. This year’s program director Morgan Edmonds (F’14) acknowledged that it is a challenge to balance merit and need in selecting fellows. “I think that if you got to Georgetown you deserve it. Everyone basically qualifies on the merit level and the last factor would be need,” Edmonds said. “I wanted to select students who would be able to benefit the most from the program,” she continued.
“A lot of students are working unpaid internships, but they often have to sacrifice their focus on the internship to have other [paid] jobs,” Edmonds said. Without free housing, many of the fellows would have either declined their internships or struggled to balance multiple jobs to pay rent in Washington, DC.
“I immensely appreciate the security of having free, stable housing for the summer,” said Reine Rambert (C’15), a government major and Baker scholar who is an intern at the nonprofit organization Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International. “The program not only provides housing and a stipend to unpaid interns, but also comes with the incredible opportunity to get to know professors and alumni at weekly dinners,” Rambert continued.
This year’s fellows are working in a wide range of fields at government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and research institutions. “All of the internships are social justice oriented,” Edmonds said. “I think it says a lot about our university because it shows that Georgetown is trying to support working [in those fields],” Edmonds continued.
In Rambert’s work at TASSC International, she helps recruit doctors and psychologists to work with the organization’s clients, many of whom need legal, medical, and psychiatric resources while seeking asylum in the United States. “I am [also] doing a personal project on some of the main countries from which our clients come: researching human rights reports, issues of cultural sensitivity, and background on the regime type,” Rambert said.
Government major Taylor Griffin (C’14) is interning for Minority Leader and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. “My internship has provided me with the opportunity to see democracy in action: how change happens, how negotiations play out, how differently minded people come together and fight for their ideological beliefs in representing the diversity in our country,” Griffin said.
All of the summer fellows knew that free housing would be the major benefit of the program, but few expected the relationships they would create with other fellows and alumni. “Even though we all have busy schedules and are interested in different things, we still have been able to connect and have a great time with each other,” Jamil Hamilton (C’15), an intern at the Department of Justice, said.
Edmonds plans weekly dinners with donors, alumni, faculty, and university staff, so fellows have the opportunity to learn more about future career paths and life after graduation. “It’s a great way to connect with alumni and Georgetown University supporters,” Edmonds said.
“The dinners regularly hosted by GSP have been inspirational to say the least,” said Ethan Sohn (F’14), who is interning at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank focused on global security and military conflicts. “Nothing could be more helpful than spending time with and asking questions to people who have found what they wanted to do in life and have been successful in achieving it,” Sohn continued.
For these students, the fellowship has been an invaluable opportunity to try out potential careers or get hands-on experience in a desired field. “This internship fits perfectly with my educational and professional goals of attending a nursing post-bac program and eventually becoming a nurse,” Hilary Fisher (C’15) said. “I am so thankful for the summer fellows and the summer they have helped me experience so far.”
Learn more about the summer fellows.