Date: January 28, 2008
Department: News & Public Information
Philip Vidinha of Fall River, a sociology major, performs a range of organizational and writing tasks at the White House's Executive Office of the President.
These two UMass Dartmouth interns are just a couple of reasons why the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was recently honored as Public University of the Year by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.
The Washington Center, an independent, non-profit organization serving hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries, provides selected students with challenging opportunities to learn and work in Washington, D.C. for academic credit.
"We selected UMass Dartmouth out of several hundred eligible institutions because enrollments continue steadily to expand, faculty support is outstanding and the program is exceptionally well run," said Joseph Johnson, Ph.D., Washington Center senior vice president. "The UMass Dartmouth students are consistently well prepared, compete well for placements and flourish in the program."
Robbin Roy, associate director of the UMass Dartmouth Career Resource Center, is the liaison to the Washington Center and accepted the award at a luncheon and ceremony held at the National Press Club. She explained that the university has been participating in the program for 20 years and approximately five students per semester get involved.
"Our students have gained valuable knowledge through their internships. They come back to campus as changed individuals eager to share what they've learned and experienced with others," Roy said.
To qualify, students write internship request statements and are matched with companies and agencies in the nation's capital that best match their interests. Following phone interviews, participants choose their placement locations. Massachusetts residents with a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher are eligible to receive a $5,000 scholarship to fund program costs, jointly paid by the state and The Washington Center during the fall and spring semesters. A $5,500 scholarship is available to those students who choose an internship in the summer.
Michael Griffin, assistant dean of the Charlton College of Business, and Professor Susan Krumholz of the Sociology/Crime and Justice Studies Department also attended the award ceremony and have been supportive of the university's partnership with The Washington Center.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for students. They meet people in the field; in fact, they meet people from all around the world. They get exposed to life beyond southeastern Massachusetts. That in itself makes it worthwhile," said Krumholz. "It's a learning experience we cannot match in the classroom."
"Students are transformed by this program. They are working in professional settings for mentors who have a great deal of knowledge to share and also experiencing the array of cultural and social opportunities available during a 15-week stay in Washington D.C.," Griffin said. "We in the College of Business hope that more of our students will take advantage of this great opportunity."
Marc Bartholdi, a finance major from Winthrop, is interning at Merrill Lynch, located three blocks from the White House. In addition to his work, he is taking a course through the Washington Center on ethical behavior in business and volunteering with City Year, an organization that taps into the civic power of youth. "One of the most beneficial things about this internship is my networking experience. I have established many important contacts during my stay here," he said.
Bartholdi said that the internship would give him an edge as he competes for jobs following graduation. "It's a way for me to distinguish myself from the thousands of students graduating who are unable to put down a finance-related internship on their resume. Having the out-of-classroom experience puts me at an advantage with companies looking to hire someone straight out of college."
Jeremiah Sullivan of New Bedford is a human resource management major, spending this semester at Goodwill of Greater Washington. Some of his responsibilities include preparing recruitment packets and fliers, assisting with the new hire process, tracking required professional training and conducting some training orientation sessions.
A military veteran who has also studied abroad in Ireland, Sullivan ranks this internship high on his list of "fantastic" opportunities. "The best part is being able to interact with some of the other top students from around the world. As a business student, I'm intrigued by entrepreneurship and I plan to use these experiences to help in my future. The program is designed for students who are ready to rise to the challenge of becoming elite college students and sets them up for many more opportunities for success."
Crime and Justice Studies major Jade Canto of North Andover is an intern at America's Most Wanted, where she assists in filming the show's weekly podcast known as "The Rundown" and is responsible for writing part of the site's new feature called "My Story." Other past placements for UMass Dartmouth students include the U.S. Department of Treasury, Federal Aviation Administration, The Washington Examiner, Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab, Federal Trade Commission, The Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, Terrorism Research Center, Peace Corps and many more.
Roy added that following graduation, several program alumni have obtained jobs at their former placement sites. That fate at Interpol would suit Lockhart, who also has a position with the FBI within her sights.
"This internship is amazing. It actually puts you in a situation where you can apply your undergraduate or graduate studies to real life and basically makes you grow up and gives you some great pointers along the way," Lockhart said. "It puts you to the test; it changes you and gives you the chance to see what your life could be like. Now I know for sure that this is the right major for me and exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life."
Vidinha's White House duties on behalf of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Office of State, Local and Tribal Affairs have been "unforgettable," he said. He would ultimately like to pursue a career with the CIA as an open source officer (media analyst) or an FBI intelligence analyst. And, he highly recommends the program to other students.
"This Washington D.C. internship experience, with the help of the TWC, has made me grow as a person academically, professionally and civically, while allowing me to excel forward in fulfilling my personal goals," Vidinha said.
Contact Robbin Roy at 508.999.8674 or RRoy@umassd.edu for more information.