Published: Sept. 5, 2012

Early last spring, Jessie Zweibel started thinking about how she could spend her summer. That’s when a campus email came across her screen, seeking applicants for an internship program in Washington, D.C.

Zweibel was one of more than a dozen CU-Boulder students who spent the summer in Washington, D.C., as part of CU in DC, an internship program developed by the College of Arts and Sciences that is open to all students in the college.

The introduction to life after college was invigorating for the senior majoring in psychology and minoring in political science.

“I am really interested in the field of international relations and human rights, and I am trying to get as much experience in this area as I can through school,” said Zweibel, who also is working on a certificate in peace and conflict studies.

Zweibel interned with an organization called Genocide Watch, a nonprofit that works to educate people on how to prevent genocide, as well as raising awareness of genocides of the past and present.

As co-director of operations, Zweibel’s job duties included researching genocide hotspots like Syria, Nigeria and Mali, and reporting the information on the Genocide Watch website. She also had a hand in running the group’s social media channels.

“This internship was all about gaining confidence,” Zweibel said. “In a non-governmental organization there are a lot of passionate people and at times that can lead to differences in opinion. Being able to move forward with a solution really helped me build confidence. And to have that confidence in yourself in any situation, whether it’s talking to a professor or in a work setting, is really important.”

She also enjoyed the mix of CU students who were in the CU in DC program and were housed together in the same building.

“It was really nice because we all came in with such different interests,” she said. “So to be able to talk with someone who was working on the Hill as opposed to someone working at a think tank on national security made for a really good mix of people.”

The experience helped her answer some of the questions she has about what she wants to do when she graduates.

“I’m very passionate about human rights and plan to work for an advocacy campaign once I graduate,” she said. “I think an internship can help you figure out what a dream job might look like, or what it is not. One thing you can always take away from an experience is ‘I don’t want to do this.’”

Outside of her studies, Zweibel is captain of the CU-Boulder hip hop dance team VeRVE Collisionz. The team puts on an annual dance competition each spring.

CU in DC is part of a broader CU-Boulder initiative to develop a presence in Washington, D.C., where students, alumni, policymakers and others can participate in the dynamic processes in the nation’s capital.