This summer I had the privilege of working in Washington, D.C. for the American Trauma Society, a health care advocacy organization, as a policy intern. As a rising senior, soon to be entering the job market, this summer was critical to opening doors for my post-graduation job search. I took a risk with an unpaid internship, and my risk has, without a doubt, paid off. The success of my internship can be credited to networking with great SU alumni and going above and beyond what was asked of me as an intern at work.
A crucial aspect of the success of my internship occurred not only inside the office but also outside as well. Since I went to D.C. as an unpaid intern, I realized that the value of my internship would come from the networking opportunities. I was quickly able to form relationships with those working in my office, one of whom was a Syracuse University alumnus who offered me the internship, and then use those relationships to branch out to other policy organizations in DC. I quickly found myself interacting with senior management at American Trauma Society who, after seeing my drive, were eager to help me form connections with other policy organizations related to my career aspirations.
I found a fondness for attending organized happy hours and meeting for conversations over coffee, and almost everywhere I went, there were friendly SU alumni with whom I could immediately form a connection. Contacting Syracuse University alumni, especially those alumni of organizations I am involved in on campus, was critical to my success. Even those alumni who weren’t necessarily politically aligned with my interests were eager to help me get in touch with those who were. On one visit, I was meeting with a friend of my boss, and after telling him I was a Syracuse University student, he immediately introduced me to two other alumni working in the office, and both kindly offered to meet with me in the future. Seizing opportunities to interact and connect with different people across different organizations was invaluable, but none of it would have been possible without focusing on the work I produced at the American Trauma Society.
My success in D.C. wasn’t derived solely from the networking, but rather was made possible by focusing on the projects that were assigned to me in my office. Without the commitment of coming to the office early, leaving late, and finishing projects before deadlines, none of the opportunities I had outside of the office would have been possible. My supervisor and other management were only willing to introduce me to others in the policy field because of the hard work and dedication I displayed while at the American Trauma Society. My dedication paid off as not only was my supervisor willing to help me form connections within his own network and the Syracuse DC alumni network, but I was also asked to continue working from school at the end of my internship, with incentive to do so.
I was fortunate to have such great resources to assist me during my internship, but the success of the internship wouldn’t have been possible without taking advantage of every opportunity and challenge put before me.
Billy Fletcher ’14 will be graduating in May and is eager to return to Washington, D.C. to begin a career in policy.