In fifth grade, I took a standard family vacation to Washington, D.C., and became enamored with the city: the masses of suits and high heels, the countless monuments and historic buildings, and the endless hustle and bustle. It was enthralling yet intimidating, and that trip sparked my love for the nation’s capital. If you told ten-year-old me that one day I would have the opportunity to live in this magical land of politics and business, I’d say it was too good to be true. As a first-generation college student from a small farm town in Colorado, studying and interning in Washington, D.C. for a semester (during the peak cherry blossom bloom in the spring, no less) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll cherish forever.

This semester studying “abroad” has given me the chance to further myself academically, professionally, and personally. While most students in the CU in D.C. program take classes as a CU Boulder cohort, I have had the unique opportunity to take classes through the Washington Media Institute with students from various universities. The program focuses on “intensive coursework, personalized internship placement, and site visits to meet with successful professionals” working across multiple fields. I’ve been able to network with experts within my areas of journalism and business while also refining my critical media skills like video editing, story-telling, interviewing, and operating under strict deadlines. We’ve had the opportunity to visit the world-renowned public relations firm Powell Tate and speak with the CEO, a CU Boulder alumnus, as well as the FOX News studio where we met anchor Tucker Carlson. In addition, I was able to create a business model and present it to actual investors, similar to the television show “Shark Tank.” While we did have a traditional classroom environment, it was heavily supplemented with interactive visits and guest speakers who highlighted how the skills we’ve acquired can be integrated and applied in our internships and eventually the workforce post-graduation.

My internship far exceeded my expectations and dreams of working on Capitol Hill. Interning for a Texas Republican in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives was an incredible experience full of exciting legislation and political conflict in the 116th Congress. I gained experience managing news and social media, guiding U.S. Capitol tours, providing excellent correspondence and customer service to constituents, and researching and compiling legislative information. What made it most worthwhile, though, were the people I was able to work alongside through it all. The folks in the office were some of the most genuine, patient, and supportive people I’ve met, as was the Congressman. They all wanted to see me succeed in completing not only the goals of the Congressman, but also those of my own personal and professional life, and I couldn’t imagine working in any other office. The opportunities for political networking and professional development in D.C. are unparalleled, and truly surpassed any simulation or presentation I could have listened to in a classroom.  

As I return to Boulder to complete my senior year, I can’t wait to share the experiences I’ve had and incorporate what I’ve learned into my final semesters. This time in Washington, D.C. allowed me to contemplate my career aspirations and open doors for a future in politics and beyond. As a young, politically-driven and patriotic American, living in the heart of our nation’s highly-charged political climate was a dream come true. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity I had to live, learn, and work in D.C., and I can definitively say there’s no place I’d rather be.

 Lindsey Nichols, CU in DC Internship Scholarship Recipient