“So how long have you been in D.C.?”

Just 16 days ago I flew into DCA, struggling to walk with my large suitcase and duffle bag while frantically searching for a group of UCDC students who I had never met before. My 16 days here have already been jam packed with orientations, seminars, full days of work, conferences and happy hours, and I look forward to many more crazy yet exhilarating days.

My name is Nicole and I’m a recent graduate of UCSB – if you want to get technical, I’m actually a 5th year on my last quarter. Having double majored in Linguistics and Global Studies at UCSB, I knew that I wanted to start a career in the field of International Relations. Unfortunately, California isn’t exactly the ideal place to find a job in IR. I had heard many success stories of graduating seniors participating in UCDC and securing full-time positions after their internships had ended, and I decided to give it a shot.

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Where I’m interning: the Middle East Institute

I’m currently interning at the Middle East Institute, a non-partisan think tank on all things Middle Eastern. My days are filled with writing, editing and event planning, along with morning coffee with my boss and career-building seminars with my fellow interns. Just three days into my internship I attended MEI’s annual conference on Turkey with over 500 people in attendance and 12 different panelists discussing the recent coup, Turkey-EU relations and other regional issues. There’s nothing glorious about being an unpaid intern, but I’m absolutely loving working at MEI after just two weeks.

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Visiting the White House with my roommate and suitemates  (Kelly Pearman, UCSB on my left)

One of the coolest things about being in DC is how close you are to the lawmakers and leaders of this country. From the UCDC center, the White House is a 10-minute walk away, and the Capitol Building is just a street down from there. The city is also full of monuments and historical museums, and I always feel as if I am passing something incredibly important while walking down the street. There’s nothing quite like being in Washington, D.C. during one of the most dramatic presidential elections in history.

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Hanging out with some Hillary and Trump impersonators while watching the first presidential debate!

If you’re a 5th year like me, or a senior still trying to figure out what exactly you want to do with your life post-graduation, I would absolutely recommend doing UCDC. I’ve learned so much about networking and the working world in my short two weeks here, and I’m confident that I’ll learn significantly more before the program comes to an end. UCDC is such a great opportunity – take advantage of it while you’re still a student!

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