Home to the world’s most influential business leaders, policymakers and journalists, Washington, D.C., is a global networking hub that welcomes thousands of young leaders for summer internships each year. In addition to internship placements, The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) D.C. Academic Internship Programs offer college students exclusive access to academic coursework and networking opportunities. During the 2021 TFAS D.C. Summer Program closing ceremony on July 29, several participants reflected on a pivotal eight weeks living, learning, interning and connecting in the nation’s capital.
When Ármin Ládanyi ’21 was accepted to the 2021 TFAS D.C. Summer Program, he was looking forward to his first trip to the United States.
A student at Corvinus University of Budapest, Ládanyi is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public policy and management, which led him to participate in the Public Policy + Economics program. Faced with new experiences in an unfamiliar place this summer, Ládanyi said he was motivated by one key phrase: always all in.
“These three words created a lifestyle, a philosophy that I expected to live out here in the United States,” Ládanyi said. “After eight weeks living, learning and interning with TFAS, I can proudly say I experienced it.”
Ládanyi was this summer’s 2021 Széll Kálmán Public Policy Fellow at the Hungary Foundation, where he had the opportunity to research thought-provoking issues and establish lifelong connections in his field. The experiences and friendships he gained through TFAS encouraged Ládanyi to continue living out his new philosophy at home in Hungary.
“Returning back to Hungary, I am glad for all the knowledge and friends that have enriched me through the program, and I now know back in Hungary that I will stay ‘always all in,’” he said.
While living in D.C., TFAS summer students take extensive courses in government, politics and economics at George Mason University. Business + Government Relations student Maanasa Muppavarapu ’21 shared that her economics class with TFAS Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Anne Bradley ignited her passion for economics and challenged her preconceived notions about the field.
“Coming into TFAS, I was so sure that I knew exactly what I wanted to study going forward,” Muppavarapu said. “I was positive that after getting my master’s [degree in accounting], I was going to go straight to law school, learn all about securities litigation, and then go work for the Securities Exchange Commission. While most of that is still true, my ECON 309 class with Professor Bradley made me realize I also really love economics.”
Coming into TFAS, I was so sure that I knew exactly what I wanted to study going forward… my ECON 309 class with Professor Bradley made me realize I also really love economics.” – Maanasa Muppavarapu ’21
A recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Muppavarapu also shared that her newfound passion for economics has encouraged her to pursue a dual degree program in both law and economics when applying to law schools in the fall. She credits her TFAS summer with showing her all the opportunities the world has to offer.
“I’m very thankful for TFAS for giving me the opportunity to learn so many new things this summer,” Muppavarapu said.
A summer in Washington, D.C., would not be complete without an internship at a leading think tank, nonprofit, news publication or congressional office on Capitol Hill.
Rising senior at Taylor University Matt Bolander ’21 interned in the Office of Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland this summer. A participant in the Leadership + the American Presidency program, Bolander was excited to see the inner workings of the United States government through his internship in the House of Representatives.
“I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to work on Capitol Hill with Congressman Harris,” Bolander said. “This opportunity helped me grow immensely as both a young professional and an individual. From constituent phone calls, to legislative operations, to sending out mail, I saw a side of the government that I otherwise would have never seen.”
Juniata College student Claire Alfree ’21 agreed that her summer internship helped her gain invaluable experience in her field. The aspiring journalist shared that interning with Hearst Television’s Washington News Bureau brought her one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a television news anchor.
“I can speak for all of us when I say that TFAS has been an impactful experience,” Alfree said on behalf of the cohort. “But for me, my summer internship has transformed my dreams of being a political TV reporter into a real-life career.”
The Pennsylvania native plans to continue her journey with Hearst TV as an intern in their newsroom this fall, sharing that her summer internship instilled the confidence to pursue new professional experiences.
“I truly have been inspired by my coworkers to push myself in my career and try a new thing everyday in the newsroom,” Alfree said. “I had zero experience with producing prior to this internship and with my colleague’s help, I now feel confident every time I answer the phone or walk into the control room. I’ve learned more about the newsroom culture through this internship than any class I took in college.”
One of the most consistently praised aspects of TFAS programs is the opportunity to make lifelong connections through the TFAS Network. During the summer 2021 closing ceremony, the cohort of nearly 300 young leaders joined over 46,000 alumni worldwide in the TFAS Alumni Network.
Nia Kamau ’21 participated in the International Affairs program this summer. A human rights and international affairs major at Southern Methodist University, Kamau was excited to secure an internship with The Market Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping men and women who have experienced trauma thrive in the business world. She was also excited to learn that her supervisor, executive director of the organization Dorothy Douglas Taft ’83, had also participated in the TFAS D.C. Summer Program.
Through the TFAS program, I built not just networks, but deep relationships. Creating sustainable change in the world requires relationships that nurture your soul and build you up. I’m so grateful for the way that TFAS has allowed me to build these relationships this summer.” – Nia Kamau ’21
“My supervisor Dorothy Taft and I built a strong connection over the summer,” Kamau said. “She intentionally mentored me, leveraging her own experiences on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Agency for International Development to encourage my passion for human rights.”
Kamau also shared the impact of creating lasting connections within her cohort. As she and her roommates trekked across the National Mall to catch the early morning sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial, Kamau was reminded that her experience in D.C. was enriched by the relationships she established along the way – both personally and professionally.
“Being in D.C. and experiencing the history and tradition is special enough,” Kamau said. “But having incredible people to live those moments with is what makes it really magical.”
One of the most important things Kamau learned about relationship building is the critical role these connections have in long-term professional growth. She believes that TFAS played an integral part in allowing her to establish a network of people who will help her succeed in the future.
“Through the TFAS program, I built not just networks, but deep relationships. Creating sustainable change in the world requires relationships that nurture your soul and build you up. I’m so grateful for the way that TFAS has allowed me to build these relationships this summer.”
To learn more about the 2021 D.C. Academic Internship Program, visit TFAS.org/SummerRecap21.