Written By: Shonn Colbrunn, Executive Director, Boerigter Center for Calling and Career
This week I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. along with fellow Boerigter Center team members Matt Adkins and Chanda Slenk. We joined Dr. Scott VanderStoep, Dean of Social Sciences, and Dr. Tom Smith, the Dr. Leon A. Bosch ’29 Professor of Management, for two days of meetings and events related to Hope’s Washington Honors Semester.
Currently in its 44th year, the Washington Honors Semester draws around 25 students every spring to live, work, and learn in our nation’s capital. This year’s students are led by Dr. David Ryden, the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of Political Science.
I was very excited to get a first-hand look at this program and see why it has been so successful for so long. In addition, I was very interested to learn more about the internship and job opportunities available to our students.
On Tuesday, we visited three internship sites: the office of Michigan Senator Gary Peters, the Heritage Foundation, and the office of Congressman Bill Huizenga. At each visit, we spoke with our students and their supervisors about their internship experience. As we talked with Bill Huizenga, he shared his appreciation for Hope interns – which says something coming from a Calvin grad!
On Wednesday, we participated with the students in their regular weekly public policy group interviews, where they get a chance to visit various organizations in D.C. and learn first-hand from their expertise. Finally, we attended an evening reception with alumni, parents, prospective families, and friends of the college. It was a great chance for our students to meet our alumni who have built their careers in the D.C. area. One special guest was our president elect, Matt Scogin, who shared words of welcome and excitement for things to come.
There are three main things I took away from this trip:
- Our students are getting an AMAZING learning experiences. I was so impressed by the level of work our students get to do as interns. Their supervisors entrust them with important responsibilities, and they had many positive things to say about their job performance. The first thing I think about is the quality of the bullet points they will be able to add to their resumes! When you add in the exposure of living in a major city and their invigorating class discussions with Dr. Ryden, it is clear that students are having a rich learning and growing experience.
- We have the potential to expand internship opportunities. During our visit, we wanted to get a feel for what internship opportunities would be relevant for students studying in fields other than political science. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that many of the opportunities are applicable to students studying business, economics, communications, history, and other subjects. Beyond those opportunities, I learned about even more from our local alumni.
Which leads me to my next point…
- Our alumni base is strong – and energized! Washington D.C. is a city that attracts alumni of all ages, and I enjoyed meeting many of them on Wednesday evening. Abby Reeg from the Hope College Development Office has done an excellent job of staying connected with our alumni in the area. Also, in our internship site visits, I was happy to hear how strong of a reputation Hope has in the city. Clearly, our students and alumni have represented the college well over the years!
I’m looking forward to more students participating in the Washington Honors Semester in the years to come. It is truly a special program that brings Hope’s mission to life – preparing students for lives of leadership and service.