Dispatch from D.C.
If D.C. has taught me one thing, it’s that experience trumps degrees. Yes, you heard a Trinity Western University student admit that her $80,000 degree is not the key to a successful career. I can stand on any street corner in this city and watch hoards of valedictorians clutching their Harvard MA’s and Yale JD’s rush into their government buildings. The harsh truth? In the treeless fields of paper resumes, BA’s from Trinity Western University…kind of mean nothing. I would never say that my degrees are useless, but I am suggesting that something else is more important. In the long run, my paper-pushing, envelope-licking, staple-smashing, typo-seeking, letter-proofing, ladder-climbing internship may be more useful.
I hear it again and again. What matters the most on resumes are skills and experience. I was hired as the meetings intern at the Council on Foreign Relations because I can write and because I have traveled overseas, but mostly because I have been an intern before. My little practicum at the Canadian Bible Society, which Ruth Anaya organized for me in COMM 351, acted as the foundation of my professional resume. In my interview, my supervisor wanted to know about my communication style, work habits, and mode of organization. While I certainly learned these skills in school, my answers were short narratives about my previous practicum. That's right: nobody asked about what I had learned in the classroom. Ouch.
The Council on Foreign Relations is a think tank that organizes meetings for 4,500 plus members on topics that relate to U.S. international relations and publishes the well-known journal Foreign Affairs. An average week of mine might include drafting speaker invitations, running microphones to members with questions, helping former ambassadors pull away the sticky-backs off their nametags, and emailing the New York headquarters with attendance tallies.
My favorite part of my internship, however, is the unpredictability. Some of my unusual tasks have included teasing Secret Service officers for being too serious, picking up film festival movies from the National Geographic offices, and greeting members from Mexico's Presidential entourage.