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Want to be an FCNL Intern? Advice from past interns, Christine, Trevor, Caroline, and Emiko

February 16, 2010

FCNL is accepting applications for the 2010-2011 internship. Applications are due by March 9, 2010 – so you don’t have much more time! You can access more information about the internship, current interns, and the application by going to http://www.fcnl.org/young/intern.htm. This internship provides a different experience for each individual and offers the opportunity to work in a great environment while learning about how to affect policy change through lobbying, here on the Hill and by opening up opportunities for people around the country to lobby from home.

While we current interns have the chance to write about our work on this blog everyday,I thought I would catch up with some of FCNL’s past interns about what life after FCNL is like, what their favorite parts of their internship were, what the most challenging parts were, and what advice they might have for incoming interns. Find out what Christine, Trevor, Caroline, and Emiko had to say and check back soon for more from past interns.

In peace,

~Rachael

Christine Haider

I came to work at FCNL after receiving a BA in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College. I moved to Washington DC committed to peacemaking and the Quaker values that I had learned at Earlham but unsure about how to live those values in the ‘real world.’ FCNL helped me discover how to authentically and effectively practice peacemaking on a political level.

As the Field Intern at FCNL, and was lucky enough to work with Jim Cason, Kathy Guthrie and the entire Campaigns team. As Field Intern, I didn’t usually spend my day lobbying representatives on Capitol Hill. Instead, I got to help bring out the “inner lobbyist’ in grassroots activists across the country! The best part of my job was getting to hear Quakers, peace activists, college students and grandparents tell me why issues of peace and justice mattered to them and helping them to be more effective in their work. As a naturally shy person I was at first terrified by the idea of calling up strangers, or giving a lobby training. However, after a year and a half at FCNL that became my favorite part of my job!

After leaving FCNL, I became Program Manager at Pathways, a transitional home for formerly homeless women that is run through Calvary Women’s Services (http://www.calvaryservices.org). At Pathways, I see the ‘other side’ of DC from what I saw at FCNL, but I still find that the interpersonal and organizing skills that I learned in my internship are invaluable in this work. Also, my experience at FCNL has inspired me to continue ‘moonlighting’ as a peace activist and grassroots organizer as a member of the board of directors for Women’s Ordination Conference (http://www.womensordination.org) and a member of the organizing team for Christian Peace Witness in Washington, DC (http://christianpeacewitness.org).

The advice that I have for current FCNL interns is to take advantage of every moment that you’re there. Make a point to attend that vigil or presentation that you were invited to, even if you feel ‘too busy,’ because those are the memories that will stick with you. Also, take time to learn all of the different skills that FCNL has to offer: lobbying, field work, web design, writing about legislative policy, etc. because you never know what will come in handy in the future. Most of all: have fun!

Trevor Keck

FCNL’s focus on advocacy first appealed to me. Prior to working at FCNL, I had interned at a research NGO in London. While I enjoyed researching, I had always felt that too much time went into research, and not enough into advocacy. FCNL’s unique combination of expertise on policy and legislative process strongly influenced my decision to apply to FCNL.

During my time at FCNL, I worked for Ann Vaughan (now in the office of Rep. Nita Lowey) and Bridget Moix. My schedule was completely different every day, another great part of my job! Some of my tasks included: analyzing and tracking legislation; policy research; scheduling lobbying visits; meetings with other coalitions of NGO; preparing fact sheets for congressional aides; writing grants; and drafting email messages to constituents.

My most exciting day was seeing Barack Obama getting sworn into office. There are many great parts about working at FCNL, but the city in and of itself is extremely exciting as well.

After leaving FCNL in July 2009, I began a graduate program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Working at FCNL provided me important practical insights into how policy gets made, which has been extremely useful in my graduate studies. My supervisor’s also offered to write me letters of recommendation, and arranged informational interviews for me with other potential employers before I decided to go back to graduate school. In short, my supervisors were extraordinarily helpful every step of the way.

Set out some goals on what you want to achieve while at FCNL. Everyone is very nice and willing to help. You will find many opportunities at FCNL, so take advantage! If you want to learn legislative process, buy David Culp a box of cookies and ask him to teach you. 🙂 Or any of the senior staff at FCNL, all of whom are experts. Overall, have fun, Washington is a great city.

Caroline Anderson

I remember I did a sneak-by of FCNL before I started work in the green building. I had just secured an apartment in Dupont Circle, and I wanted to practice my commute. I was trying to play it cool for my mom, who had come with me, but the truth was I was deeply nervous about starting work at FCNL.

I’m not sure whether I should have been nervous or not. Of course, the work that I did at FCNL was challenging and tested my organizational and creative skills, but the people I was working with were wonderfully supportive while I worked out kinks in my Dreamweaver and html technique – not to mention while I got used to writing in FCNL style. The skills that I learned in the communications team at FCNL included web design and maintenance, writing, organization, and translation. Yes, I learned how to translate the wonderful and complicated policy briefs our lobbyists came up with into language that was compelling to an average reader. This was unbelievably challenging, but helped me learn an immense amount about communication and each of the issues that FCNL works on.

I suppose the unexpected gain from my FCNL internship was my passion for communications strategy. I’m now working towards my master’s degree in media and public affairs at George Washington University, studying how the media shapes policy choices and how they are made. I am learning all I can before hopefully diving back into the world of communications strategy. I can’t wait to start thinking up media strategies with a mission like I did at FCNL. If I hadn’t been an intern I would not be poised to realize this dream, and I might not even have the dream itself.

My advice for new interns? Make the internship your own! Take the room that FCNL gives you to explore and follow your passions. My passions lead me to develop this very blog and to produce a podcast about legislative issues. Where can yours lead you?

Emiko Guthe

As an FCNL Legislative Program Assistant, I worked on Civil Liberties and Domestic issues. This included a VERY wide range of issues. I wrote a “Playbill” explaining the federal budget process, helped to organize coalition meetings and scheduled lobby meetings for comprehensive immigration reform, wrote biweekly updates for the federal budget listserve, updated and untangled the website, attending briefings and coalition meetings on everything from privacy issues to poverty in the U.S. Working under two separate supervisors was challenging, but I truly enjoyed the breadth of issues I was able to learn about.

After my year at FCNL I joined the Peace Corps and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan for two years. I recently returned to Washington DC and am working for an IT and innovation think tank.

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