The Washington Center
About the Washington Center
Experience Transforms: Live, work, and learn in Washington, D.C.!
Through The Washington Center (TWC), Saint Joseph’s University offers semester-long and summer internships in Washington D.C. As a national and international capital, D.C. provides resources and opportunities unlike anywhere else. A natural setting for studying the political process, D.C. is also home to hundreds of major corporations, non-profit organizations, think tanks, advocacy groups and agencies. There are numerous opportunities for students in all majors, including positions in the media, arts, education, business, science, international affairs, environment, health care and more.
A semester or summer at The Washington Center allows students to gain valuable career experience while remaining full-time students. The program is open to all majors and disciplines, and students are able to choose from seven different professional tracks that cater to their interest and career aspirations:
- Advocacy, Service and Arts
- Business and Global Trade
- International Affairs
- Law and Criminal Justice
- Media and Communications
- Politics and Public Policy
- Science, Technology and Society
TWC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization in Washington, D.C. which provides integrated academic and work experience to prepare college students for careers in private, public, and related professions. The program runs year-round, provides housing, and includes training in leadership, professional skills, a lecture series, and special events throughout the semester.
The Professional Tracks
Whether you go in the fall, spring, or summer, the program includes three parts, all of which correspond to a chosen Professional Track: 1) an Internship, 2) an Academic Course, and 3) a Leadership and Civic Engagement Forum. All are required components for each participant, and students receive academic credit for each component and remain on track for graduation.
You can choose one of several professional tracks to be a part of during the term including:
- Advocacy, Service & Arts
- Business & Global Trade
- International Affairs
- Law & Criminal Justice
- Media & Communications
- Politics & Public Policy
- Science, Technology & Society
Students rank their top professional track choices in the application. Each professional track is overseen/supported by an Academic Program Advisor who counsels students, and works with the students to secure internships and evaluate them.
TWC maintains contact with hundreds of potential placement sites. When applying, students indicate their interest in one of TWC’s Professional Tracks listed above. Then TWC begins the matching process and students are referred to placement sites according to their interests and career goals, typically from an initial list of about 7 or 8 sites. Students decide their placement from those that offer internships. Internships are 4 to 4.5 days per week, 32-35 hours each week. Student placements are confirmed a few weeks before beginning the program. All are guaranteed to be 80% substantive work.
The Academic Course
All students accepted into the program enroll in one academic course offered by TWC. Usually, courses meet one evening each week for 3 hours and are taught by TWC’s highly qualified faculty, often from surrounding universities like American or George Washington. Students select several courses and are placed in one. Each professional track has a variety of courses to choose from and includes topics on international affairs and foreign policy, leadership, business, science policy, communications, the arts and humanities, American politics, law and criminal justice and homeland or national security.
Past courses have included Strategic Communications, Global Markets and International Business Strategies, International Human Rights, Mass Media and American Politics, Criminal Justice and Policy Wars and Essentials for Aspiring Leaders.
The LEAD Colloquium (Leadership, Engagement, Achievement, Development)
The LEAD Colloquium is comprised of various activities designed to complement the internship experience. All students participate in this Friday seminar which is a series of events, lectures, embassy visits and community projects. Students will also be responsible for completing an academic portfolio. This seminar, when paired with the internship, is equivalent to one SJU academic credit.
Every week students meet as part of the forum. While some programming events take place in large groups, many activities are dictated by the Professional Track Programming that students choose as part of their experience, which is tailored to their interests.
Throughout the program, you'll build a portfolio that showcases what you've learned and documents your professional journey.
Credits, Costs and Housing
One of the first questions the SJU Liaison will ask you is "when do you want to go?" This is asked for three reasons:
1) To establish the most appropriate deadline for your application
2) To discuss what kind of experience you are looking for
3) To determine how the program will fit within your academic major.
If accepted into the program during the fall or spring semesters, students enroll at and receive full-time academic credit from SJU (15 credits or 5 classes). For the summer program, students register and receive credit just as they would for other SJU summer classes. Credit and grades are awarded based on an evaluation performed by TWC staff, the internship site supervisor, TWC faculty, and the SJU Campus Liaison and is awarded after the completion of the program.
In consultation with a student’s major department, credits typically count as a combination of major requirements and electives, some of which may also count toward fulfilling the GEP Social Science requirement. Speak with the Liaison about the current system of course credits for your particular department.
During the fall and spring semesters, students pay SJU tuition and fees for a regular 15 credit semester (in addition to TWC housing) and receive the same financial aid as if they were on campus. SJU then pays TWC program fees. For the summer program, students pay regular SJU fees for courses.
All students accepted into TWC’s program are guaranteed housing. Students live at The Washington Center Apartments located 7 blocks from Union Station, and 3 blocks from the nearest Metro stop. You'll share your apartment with other TWC interns from all over the US and the world and have access to Washington's Metro subway system, shops, restaurants and grocery stores.
Although there are differences among the various housing units, most of them offer the following amenities:
- Large, furnished 4-person apartments
- Fully-equipped kitchens with granite countertops, appliances (including dishwashers and microwave ovens) and cooking and eating utensils
- Individually controlled heating and air conditioning units
- Washer and dryer unit in the apartment
- High speed wireless internet access
- Flatscreen TV mounted on the wall with basic cable service
- Student Life Staff, including Alumni in Residence, and 24-hour front desk coverage or security staff
- On-site fitness center
Eligibility and Application Process
To be eligible to participate in the program, SJU students must have at least sophomore standing and have a cumulative 3.0 GPA (Students with lower GPAs may be considered, so speak with the liaison if your GPA is at least 2.75). Participants should show outstanding academic progress, a great deal of maturity and motivation and the capacity to pursue independent study. It is important that students are able to demonstrate organization, adaptability, flexibility and professionalism.
- Prepare Application Documents
The application process includes two letters of recommendation, an essay writing sample, statement of professional interest, resume, transcripts and completion of TWC’s application form. Students should consult the Step-by-Step Admissions Guide on TWC’s webpage. On this page, you will find a checklist of supporting documents that you will need to gather for the application. Students should forward all materials except the application form to the Liaison for approval before applying online. A fuller description of the supporting documents is included in the last section of this page. In general, the preparation process includes:
- Identified letter of recommendation providers
- Requesting transcripts
- Creating a resume and meeting with SJU’s Career Development Center to review
- Writing a statement of professional interest and issues essay
- Submit TWC’s Online Application
After you have received approval from the Liaison, you can start your on-line application for The Washington Center. You can start at any time, save it, and continue to work on it. You will not be required to complete it in one sitting.
- Go to the Student Portal.
- Create an account.
- Start and submit the online application by following the instructions. Throughout the process, you can save your application and return to it at a later time.
- Acceptance into the Program
TWC’s admissions committee will review your application within two weeks of its completion, confirm your submission with the campus Liaison and send a decision via email. Once accepted, students are assigned to an internship coordinator and begin the internship placement process.
A one-page, professional resume is required. Students should create an initial draft and then go to the SJU’s Career Development Center during their walk-in hours and have this first draft reviewed. Subsequent drafts will be reviewed with the SJU TWC Liaison.
Statement of Professional Interest
The Statement of Interest is a 100-word, succinct statement of the skills and experiences you wish to gain through your internship. Think of it as an extended objective statement, or a very short cover letter. The audience is your future internship site supervisor, so address your interests clearly. They want to know right away if they have what you are looking for. A rough outline should be:
- I would like an internship in Washington DC in the area of...
- Specifically, I'd like to be exposed to/learn more about/gain skills in...
- This would assist me in reaching my career goal of...
Be direct, concise and as specific as possible. Talk about the skills and experiences you want from your internship and why. This is not the place to address skills you already have or how excited you are to do anything they may ask of you. Do NOT name any one agency in particular, so that you are not limiting who considers your application.
Pick ONE issue that you are concerned, passionate and/or knowledgeable about in your field of choice, and discuss it in about 500 words. This should be written in the first person and should contain some of your personal views or opinions. This essay serves two functions for TWC's hiring agencies:
- Primarily, it serves as a writing sample for employers to see the quality of your writing skills.
- It is a way of indicating to any hiring agency where you stand on issues so that you are matched with a placement that is a philosophical fit for you.
Make sure your grammar is perfect. List your full name and school clearly at the top, double spaced with 1" margins and do not exceed 500 words. If you need ideas for current policies or hot topics, try Congressional Quarterly, CQ Researcher, The National Journal or Idealist.org.
You will need ONE OFFICIAL transcript from EACH college or university you have attended. Visit the Student Records and Registration Portal and follow the instructions. Simply request that ONE OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT to be sent directly to TWC.
Two Letters of Recommendation
You will need two letters of reference and at least ONE MUST be from a full-time faculty member. Give faculty advance notice of your request, and provide them with information on TWC if they are not familiar with the program. Also, accompany a request for a letter of reference with a copy of your resume and an unofficial transcript (also available from The NEST).
TWC now accepts all letters of recommendation electronically. After you've asked for the letter, follow the prompts in the online application and enter information about your writer. Do not enter an email address for a recommender until you have spoken with them first! This will send an email directly to the letter writer, with complete instructions on how to submit the letter. Do not forget to send a thank you note, preferably hand-written, to your letter writers once you have been accepted. It's also advisable to send a note to them again once you are in DC, telling them about your placement and once more thanking them for their support.
There is a $60 application fee, assessed by TWC, after you have received the SJU Liaison's approval. You will be expected to include a credit card number to be charged. Applications cannot be submitted without payment. Some financial assistance and scholarships may be available to pay for the program for those students who qualify. Speak with the Liaison for information on various resources that may be available.
Important Dates and Deadlines
Plan early! All applicants must meet with Dr. Scola, The Washington Center Liaison in advance of filling out the application to go over all aspects of the application process, including reviewing resume drafts, writing samples, and personal statements. You must also provide The Washington Center with an official transcript from all colleges attended. Consult The Washington Center Dates and Deadlines page for specific dates.
NOTE: Early Application is typically only for placements that require security clearances. Some examples are the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and State and federal law enforcement agencies. All other applicants are encouraged to adhere to the regular deadline. Visit the The Washington Center page regarding programs that have early application deadlines to see which organizations require early submission of materials.
|Spring Semester: Priority – Mid-October; Regular – Mid-November|
|Summer Session: Priority – Mid-February; Regular – Mid-March|
|Fall Semester: Priority – Mid-April; Regular – Mid-May|