Student Interview, Study Away in D.C

Jessica Mendoza, staff writer

The following dialogue is from an interview with Zakariya Abdullahi, a senior double majoring in Political Science (Public Policy) and International Relations. Abdullahi completed a study away program in D.C during the fall 2018 semester. Below are his responses to several questions about his experiences. 

Jessica Mendoza (JM)

Tell me about how you found out about your study away program. Why did you choose your specific program?

Zakariya Abdullahi (ZA) 

I heard about the opportunity from another student that had previously completed the program. I was really interested and decided to find out more. The program I completed was through The Washington Center (TWC) in D.C during the 2018 fall semester. TWC program has an internship component that students are able to participate in. So, I interviewed with several organizations that I could potentially work with during my semester away. The organizations could be government agencies, banks, but also many other locations. For example, I also interviewed with the Peace Corps and many nonprofits. After completing multiple interviews you pick an internship location if you get multiple offers.

When you’re going through the application process, you have to do a personal statement or statement of interest. You talk about what you are interested in and what you want to do in the future. I was fortunate enough to have found a paid internship with Citigroup bank. I worked for their global government affairs (GGA) team, which is based out of DC. Through TWC you meet with an advisor and the advisor walks you through program details and any questions you have. 

During the program you have your internship from Mondays through Thursdays and then Fridays, you have professional development workshops. Wednesdays, you have a class, for which I took US foreign policy, and I was able to talk to my faculty advisor from Augsburg for the credits to transfer as one of my political science classes. The program offered a lot of networking opportunities. 

One thing I wish I would have done differently is wait until my junior or senior year, because I was a sophomore when I completed the program. It was overwhelming at times but I tried to make the most out of my experience. I was able to connect with new people from all over the U.S, students and professional workers alike. I also got to speak with people from or with connections to Minnesota such as workers on Representative Ilhan Omar’s and Senator Tina Smith’s teams at the Capital. Overall I learned a lot about international relations and foreign policy. Through my internship I attended many events with professionals and political workers. 


How was the transition from being at Augsburg to a new city?


The program had around 600 students from all over the country and from around the world. I actually signed up for the program with a friend from Augsburg which helped with feeling connected to someone. We would go for walks, biking and get to know the city. The program is very independent; you keep track of the program commitments and beyond that you are free to immerse yourself in the city. Most students live in residential halls. My internship helped cover many of my personal expenses so that was a huge benefit.

Zak Abdullahi and Ilhan Omar 
Taken by: Unknown