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A&L Student Alicia Pullen Explores Politics and Legislation through Internships

What did you do in Washington, DC as a participant at The Washington Center?

As a participant of the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, I spent a semester studying and interning in the Nation's Capital. I interned at Kieloch Consulting, a political consulting firm located on Capitol Hill. At Kieloch, I assisted in call-time sessions with members of Congress, facilitated the transfer of campaign funds, and staffed congressional events in D.C. I also had the opportunity to explore Capitol Hill and take advantage of think-tanks and other programs offered to young professionals. In addition to my internship, I participated in two classes offered by the Washington Center. Theses classes included a colloquium program and an academic course of my choice. The colloquium program offered students professional development through resumé workshops, career exploration, and many opportunities for students to network with colleagues. The academic course I chose was titled Scandalous Washington and provided me with the opportunity to explore the city's history while learning Washington's most scandalous stories by visiting historic sites and landmarks. One of my most memorable experiences in D.C. was conducting an informational interview with Congressman William Lacy Clay of Missouri. During our conversation, I had the opportunity to ask him questions related to his time in public office and he spoke about some of his most difficult challenges in Congress.

Did you enjoy exploring the city? What are some of your favorite places?

Washington's rich history and vibrant streets makes the city a desirable tourist location. When I wasn't interning, I spent most of my time exploring monuments and museums. What I enjoyed most about my excursions was learning about the significance of historical sites and successfully navigating my way on D.C.'s metro system. One of my favorite locations was the U-Street corridor where the Washington, D.C. riots of 1968 occurred following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Other significant places included Ford's Theatre, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Octagon House, and the Mayflower Hotel. During my Scandalous Washington course, much of my class time was spent on walking tours throughout the city and researching scandals that occurred at different locations.

Did your internship program help with housing arrangements?

The Washington Center helped me with housing arrangements by providing a residential building to live in during my internship. The program is unique in that it provides housing to students in their new eight-floor residential and academic facility located in the NoMa Neighborhood of Washington, D.C. In this building, students are housed with other Washington Center interns from around the world and room in comfortable apartments overlooking the city. The academic classrooms and auditorium were located on the ground floor of the building and provided areas where students could listen to guest speakers, participated in their academic classes, and attended the colloquium program.

How was your experience in Richmond different from your experience in DC?

Following my Washington Center internship, I had the opportunity to intern at the Virginia General Assembly. As a legislative intern to State Senator John A. Cosgrove and Delegate James (Jay) Leftwich, I was responsible for updating bill calendars, meeting with constituents, and attending committee meetings. This program in conjunction with Old Dominion University's Office of Legislative Relations allowed me to gain a better understanding of the Virginia legislative process and represent Old Dominion during the 63-day session at the Virginia Capital. My internship in Richmond was different from my experience in Washington, D.C. in many ways. In Richmond, I worked in more than one office and worked on several projects. I also had the opportunity to do legislative work and learn about both the senator and delegates' bills. Lastly, I attended several networking events each week.

Have you often seen connections between your internship experiences and your work in the ODU classroom?

I have seen connections between my internship experiences and the work I have done in my classes at Old Dominion University. I have studied the legislative process at the national level, campaign fundraising, and bipartisan participation on bills at the state and national level. My courses at ODU have provided me with the knowledge necessary to have completed my internships successfully. Without having prior understanding of the political climate and process in the state and national government, my internships would have been much difficult to complete. Moreover, I believe that my ODU classes have provided me with advanced skills in research and analyzing which were useful during both my internships.

Have your goals and plans for the future changed as a result of your internship experiences?

Having completed both internships, by goals and plans for the future have changed. I would like to pursue a career in both the legal and political field. I would also like to continue my study of history and public policy to help further my understanding of past history and its connection to the current political landscape. My internships in D.C. and Richmond introduced me to career possibilities and opportunities within the political sector and allowed me to apply my studies of history and politics outside of the classroom.

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