Stories from Washington Week

Stories from alumni and students who have attended Washington Week


All 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 graduates participated in Washington Week as students.


Jarred A. Butto, A.M. '07

It is a distinct pleasure to have this opportunity to share some thoughts about the SSA Washington Week program with the students, faculty, and administration of our academic department. I have been involved with Washington Week as a second-year Master's student and, for several years now, as an alumni host and I have found my experiences to be both informative and immensely gratifying. I feel strongly that this program provides an unparalleled service to our community and that it has become a tradition worthy of nurture and preservation.

I can, in many ways, attribute my success in finding my current position as Senior Program Specialist for International Initiatives at the American Council on Education to the care and dedication that Michael Jogerst brings to the Washington Week program. His guidance during the weeklong event and in pre-departure orientation sessions as well as his careful coordination of alumni information sessions was essential to my ability to establish connections that paid dividends as I began my job search in Washington, D.C. Michael also made himself available even after I had graduated from SSA and continued to provide direction, encouragement, and a much needed (and strongly worded) dose of reality when my motivation and confidence began to waiver.

During my SSA supported trip to Washington as a student, I had the opportunity to meet with 12 different alumni working in a multitude of fields across the capital including government, the private sector, and the non-profit and association worlds. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to shadow an SSA alumnus at the US Department of Labor (where I serendipitously met the former Assistant Secretary of Labor and wound up in a private meeting with him). I was also able to formulate professional connections with a number of SSA alumni with whom I maintained contact during my second-year course work and throughout my job search. After graduation I traveled to D.C. several times and met one on one with these individuals to discuss their own career trajectories and the wide array of opportunities in the D.C. metropolitan region. Many of these alumni helped to circulate my resume, introduced me to colleagues, and forwarded me postings for positions in which they thought I might have an interest. One of the positions forwarded was an entry level opening at the American Council on Education where I have been employed since my graduation from SSA. Without a doubt the most valuable part of my Washington Week experience was this opportunity to network and formulate relationships with like-minded alumni who were not only willing to assist me, but also invested in my success.

Over the past three years it has brought me great pleasure to serve as an alumni host of SSA students during Washington Week, to meet the brightest minds entering the filed, and to play a role, however small, in guiding their progress. As the recipient of such generous consideration and assistance from alumni during my time as a student I feel "obligated by karma" to make myself available to my SSA classmates and colleagues. I look forward to hosting students each year and I find it rewarding to maintain my connection to the SSA community in a way that is both participatory and engaged. I will continue to do so as long as the opportunity is presented.

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Seth F. Chamberlain, A.M. '04
Social Science Research Analyst

Washington Week was my first opportunity to speak with policymakers, researchers, and advocates working in and around federal policy. Not only did it give me the chance to see how my skill set and interests could fit in Washington, it also gave me great contacts with whom to follow-up.

I think SSA should support Washington Week simply because SSA already has such a connection with Washington—it is a great missed opportunity to not provide an opportunity for current SSA students to make connections with past students. Furthermore, if SSA wants to continue to be relevant on a national level, it simply must provide opportunities for current SSA students to integrate themselves into the national dialogue—and there's no more cost-effective way of doing that than through connecting with former students.

I continue to participate in Washington Week because I believe that SSA students are generally mission-driven, and that those types of people are extremely beneficial to Washington systems (governmental, advocacy, and non-profit). Washington Week is a relatively easy way for me to provide what I know, in order to in some small way enable these mission-driven students to help us realize a better America.

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Charles G. Curie, A.M. '79

Washington Week is now very much a tradition that brings together current students with alumni in a meaningful way. It is challenging for alumni to stay in touch with their graduate school and it is wonderful that Washington Week provides the opportunity for us to share with current students "the lay of the land" for Social Work in D.C..

Concretely, it has even ended up being an opportunity to recruit high quality professionals looking for policy or practice opportunities within the Federal Government. As an alumnus, I am also greatly inspired each year to see the talent, intelligence, commitment, passion and enthusiasm of the students. It helps me stay motivated (and feel a bit younger too!).

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Nadeen Israel, A.M. '10

From Washington Week, I learned about all the routes SSA alumni take when they first graduate. I also learned how unique our degree is and how to play up the social work part of it if we're looking for more direct service type jobs and the social administration part if we're looking for policy or program management type jobs. In addition, this trip reinforced the message I have been getting about the importance of networking and informational interviews.

The trip was helpful because it gave me an insider's lens on how to navigate applying for jobs in the Federal Government, that it's pretty important and impressive to have worked in D.C., especially on the Hill, even if just for a couple of years (especially for those who want to do policy work), and gave me a sense of what it is like to live and work in D.C. and the feel of the fast-paced environment that exists there.

I would strongly encourage any admin student to attend Washington Week if they have even the slightest inkling of maybe wanting to work in D.C., doing policy work at the federal level, working for the federal government, and/or curious about the types of jobs and careers they can go into with an SSA degree. The networking and candid advice from the SSA alumni alone is priceless!

I would be more than happy to talk to any student thinking about attending Washington Week in the future. Thanks!

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Lynn S. Kim, A.M. '97

A degree from SSA is extremely versatile but sometimes it is hard to see what the options are and variations of how to use it. SSA Washington Week allows students to see first-hand how alums are forging their careers with their SSA training and allows alums to continue to get ideas and make connections with other alums. In Washington, it is important to have a professional network and SSA Washington Week provides SSA students and alums the vehicle to build (AND MAINTAIN) that network. I have enjoyed participating in Washington Week year after year for professional and personal reasons. It's great to see old friends and make new ones.

Read more about Lynn S. Kim

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Jennifer McNabb, A.M. '03

I attended SSA from 2001 – 2003 and graduated with a master's degree in June of 2003. While at SSA, I participated in the Administrative Track. Having previously spent my professional career working on numerous state, federal, and presidential campaigns, I entered SSA determined to better understand how policies affect program operations on the frontlines; and how, as a future program analyst, I could advocate for meaningful changes that would improve program implementation. I also tried to encourage my fellow students to get involved in policymaking and lobbying as a way of better serving their clients. While Washington Week was not available when I was at SSA, I was pleased when Michael Jogerst and the rest of the SSA team took the initiative to organize it. It is so exciting that every year since then, more and more students have taken advantage of the opportunity. Since its inception, I have participated in Washington Week, answering questions and trying to give students an accurate picture of what life in D.C. is like and how things operate in the federal bureaucracy. As future leaders and social workers, it is imperative for students to understand how policies are created and implemented and how funding affects the programs that are important to them at the federal, state and local level. While I hope they leave D.C. with a better understanding of this process, I also hope they return to SSA better prepared to make career and personal decisions that will serve them and their clients well in the future. I feel it is my duty to help these fledgling social workers as they begin their journeys, but I gain so much from the experience as well. Their energy, enthusiasm, and eagerness to help make the world a better place are invigorating and remind me of why I chose this path. I always end the week feeling better about my choices and reenergized to do all I can to help the people I have committed to serve.

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James Miner, A.M. '09

I participated in Washington Week as a student in 2007, and the event made a significant impression on me. I was in my first year at SSA, so at the time I was centered more on performing well in classes than committing to a career decision. The experience of meeting alumni in their places of business introduced new career paths and helped to refine my goals at school after the spring break. Overall, the experience was an invaluable conceptual and practical benefit to my professional development.

Most students at SSA are quite career-driven, yet I found it common for many in my class to feel overwhelmed by the variety of professional directions we could take the SSA degree. For administrative students especially, the career path can appear fragmented. As a student you hear stories about alumni entering exciting national policy positions, but the course to these goals is not always clear. The SSA internship is an excellent introduction to many social service administration settings, but for those interested in policy work or federal service, the opportunities in Washington, D.C. are less accessible. Washington Week bridges this gap by providing an introduction to D.C. professional culture and the enthusiastic SSA alumni who participate.

After a week of meeting alumni in think tanks, federal agencies, foundations, and non-profits, my professional horizons were considerably affected. While I may have known that these positions were theoretically within reach, there is no replacement for personally interacting with SSA alumni onsite. Washington Week alumni dispel myths, provide clarity, and share personal tips for navigating obstacles in their fields. After a week of presentations, I had a newly refined concept for how I wanted my career to unfold. I may have gone to Washington Week interested in think tanks, but I left knowing I wanted to work in federal service. Washington Week was pivotal in solidifying my professional direction.

On a practical level, the benefits of Washington Week only begin in March. Relationships I established in that week are still active. SSA alumni really do stay in touch, and in my experience, go out of their way to help graduates. The program through which I entered federal service was designed by an SSA alumna. One generous participant was instrumental in my wife's career search 2 years after I attended Washington Week. As a newly participating alumnus, I look forward to the event all year. Meeting students refreshes a sense of excitement and possibility. The qualities and skills of SSA students are needed in D.C., and I am committed to assisting graduates however I can.

Finally, the elegant Cosmos Club must be mentioned. A reception at this D.C. institution sets an ideal tone for Chicago students and alumni by honoring historic intellectual achievement. Attendance is a privilege.

Read more about James Miner.

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Marcy Mistrett, A.M. '95

I have had the great fortune of participating in Washington Week since 2005 (or was it 2006)? It is a week that I always look forward to for several reasons. First, it is so nice to connect to other SSA Alum who live in the D.C. area; we don't often gather outside of this week, so I appreciate the mini-annual reunion. Second, it gives me an opportunity to stay connected to the next generation of social service providers, and to get "first dibs" on the new talent coming out of SSA. Finally, it is great to have an opportunity to reach one and teach one. Every year, this event provides me the opportunity to sit and reflect on my career and decisions, reconnect to the mission of social work, and to ask myself how I am making a difference in our world.

On a related note, I appreciate Michael's persistence and follow through with alums and students alike. I have had dozens of quality students follow up with me after Washington Week via Michael's advising and I am always impressed with their professionalism. I remember being a new graduate and arriving in D.C. thinking, "OK, I am totally unprepared for this reality." I went through my hand-held alumni book and to this day remember the one or two alumni who took the time to listen to me and give me one or two next steps. This level of support was one of the main reasons I chose the U of C for my graduate studies, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to return the favor.

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Neelam J. Patel, A.M. '05
Program Specialist (and Presidential Management Fellow graduate)U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women

Washington Week started while I was a student at SSA. However, my first experience with Washington Week was in 2006, the year after I graduated from SSA. And every year since 2006 I've participated in Washington Week by attending the reception and hosting information sessions. I enjoy meeting with students, learning about their career interests and catching up on the happenings at SSA. However, Washington Week is first and foremost for the students. Every year I am more impressed with the focus and dedication of the students that participate in Washington Week. The experience for the students to meet with alumni, to learn about career opportunities in Washington D.C., and to discover more about their career interests is invaluable.

I do not know of any other social work graduate programs that offer such a rich and rewarding networking and career guiding opportunity. Thank you to the wonderful staff at SSA for organizing Washington Week and I look forward to participating for many more years!

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Bryan Rivera, A.M. '08

My interaction with SSA students has always been great. I've always felt that Washington Week certainly provides a unique opportunity for current students to network with SSA alumni and get a better sense of what actual careers in the social service sector look like. I enjoy participating because SSA students are always very enthusiastic and hopeful about their careers. Just like others did for me in the past, I believe it is important that we continue to support efforts for better professionals in the social service field.

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Rebecca Rust, A.M. '09

I went to Washington Week during my first year at SSA, and found that it really opened my eyes to a variety of careers that I could apply for, such as positions in the federal government. Speaking directly with alumni, and hearing about how they ended up in their positions was so inspiring, and they really gave us practical advice about applying for jobs and networking. I found it really helpful to go to Washington Week my first year, in particular, so I could think about my career differently before I approached my second year at SSA.

Without Washington Week, I do not think I would have the career I have today. I think a lot of students come to SSA with ideas about what type of work they are interested in pursuing, but until they actually do an internship or speak with alumni who do that work every day, it can be challenging to know realistically what types of jobs they will find fulfilling. Washington Week gives students valuable information about what it really is like to work in policy in Washington that is often hard to get when you do not live in D.C. I would recommend it to all students, including those who are not sure whether they want to work in policy, because the insights you get during this week can really change your perspective.

Last spring, I presented with other alumni at the agency I work at to SSA students during Washington Week. One of the reasons I volunteered to speak to students was because of my fond memories of how these sessions influenced me, and I wanted to help other students in the same way I was helped several years ago. Alumni really do have invaluable insights that they can share with students, and I think the tradition of having this networking system in place at SSA really makes a difference.

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Mimi Scotchmer, A.M. '07

Washington Week was helpful in many ways. I came from D.C. to SSA and my plan from the start was to get a great social work education and come back to this area to work. So, it was a relief to hear that there was a built in connection for me to plug into. As one of the only clinical students who attended both years, Washington Week helped me see in real world examples how the micro and macro issues inform each other. Attending Washington Week and meeting with alums who were doing such a variety of things after SSA helped me expand my own vision of what I could do after getting my Master's degree and to think bigger about the possibilities. Overall participating in Washington Week got me completely energized to get out into the working world of social work and helped affirm how many opportunities there would be for me.

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Jessica N. Shah, A.M. '10

Washington Week in two words: WORTH IT! The week is busy but filled with opportunities. It is almost impossible not to learn something new both about yourself and social policy in general. Pervious to Washington Week, I went back and forth with what I wanted to do with my SSA degree. I wondered if I should go into research, program evaluation, policy, and even law. I debated whether I wanted to stay within the realm of older adults or disability. Basically, I did not know what I wanted to do! Although Washington Week did not answer all my questions, the experience pushed me in the right direction. I learned just by taking initiative, talking to people, and asking the right questions that I could meld all my seemingly different interests together. Perhaps most of all, I gained a proactive stance on my career development. Networking is not only about the most obvious, getting contacts, but it's about learning from your peers; it's about seeing the opportunities that are not so obvious, and learning how to get there. Washington Week gives you some of those tools as well as the confidence to realize there is something out there that fits ALL your interests—you do not have to compromise. To me, this is priceless.

Also, it should be said, even though Washington Week is busy, you still get to experience what Washington, D.C. has to offer and meet new SSA students.

To end, I encourage attending Washington Week, as it is a unique experience. This is especially true if you feel uncomfortable about networking. It is a way for you to get your feet wet with out having to jump in right away. Michael does the tough—and at least for me—nerve-wrecking stuff: he makes the initial contact, finds the right alumni, and sets up the perfect environment for you to gain the most from your experience.

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Sharon Shoham, A.M. '07

I attended Washington Week as a second year SSA student in March 2007. It was during Washington Week that I formed a deeper connection to the University of Chicago and SSA. The number of alumni who year after year are willing and eager to share their stories and offer advice and job postings speaks to the caliber of the program and its community. The paths one can take with a degree from SSA are varied and Washington Week provides an excellent opportunity for students to make contacts with individuals who understand the uniqueness of the SSA program and who have found passionate career paths to pursue. Furthermore, as a student, I found it helpful to spend part of my spring break gearing up for the job search. Fortunately for me, I met an alumnus at Washington Week who told me about a job opening at his place of work. I applied for it, was offered the position, and have been working for the same organization for the past three and a half years. I highly recommend Washington Week. It's the perfect balance of networking, socializing, and (career) soul searching!

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Heather Tompkins, A.M. '06
Office of Budget, Health and Human Services

I attended my first Washington Week without any preconceptions about what the potential value of the experience might be; it just seemed like something I should do as part of a career exploration process. The fact that I was first in line to attend a second year of Washington Week explains a bit about the importance of the experience to me.

Through participation in the Washington Week onsite information sessions I gained insight into how alumni translate their SSA educations to meaningful positions of influence to improve institutions and the lives of individuals. The flexibility of an SSA degree was evident through the various types of work people were doing in D.C. at non-profits, advocacy organizations, in academia, government and policy settings, and clinical settings. I appreciated that alumni were willing to speak openly and honestly about their jobs and experiences in a manner that future employers and recruiters might not, which was tremendously valuable as I considered my own career path and which types of jobs would best fit my values and skill sets. I learned not only about potential job opportunities, but how to best set myself up for successful employment in each setting including what type of field placement, coursework, and other experience was beneficial. It was through Washington Week that I first learned of the Presidential Management Fellows program, through which I successfully secured employment after graduation from SSA.

As an SSA alumna, I always excitedly anticipate Washington Week because it gives me a way to stay connected with the school even though I am located geographically far from campus. I take satisfaction knowing that I am able to "pay forward" the thoughtfulness, direction, and support that was shared with me when I attended as a student. My actions are not entirely altruistic, though. One of the reasons I have hosted students at my work and spent time coaching several PMF candidates last year is that I know in the long run I will benefit. I will benefit when some of these individuals become my peers and offer me advice on their career fields or forward job opportunities at their organizations that are a great fit for my skills and interest. I will benefit when, because of Washington Week, other SSA alumni decide to pursue careers in the Federal government and my coworkers reflect the intelligence, pragmatism, and commitment to social justice that SSA graduates embody. Despite common perception, the Federal government is filled with bright, motivated, and accomplished individuals, and we would all be better off if many more of those individuals also had social work values!

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Sara Wang, A.M. '10

I couldn't agree more that all the alums are really nice and helpful.

I would really recommend first year students to go, however. I think they would benefit much more than second years as it feels a lot of opportunities are too late for second years already. For first year students, they get a better sense of what classes they should take the coming year, what they should focus on learning in their second year placement, and they also get the opportunities to do some cool summer internships in D.C., which I am sure would open up a lot more opportunities for them.

I never thought I would want to work in D.C. before. I decided to come to Washington Week because I wanted to know what SSA grads are doing out there and what we can do with our degree. I also decided to come as I hoped it could give me better ideas and directions to find a good job. And it definitely exceeded my expectation. Most importantly, it really motivated me seeing that our alums are in a lot of amazing organizations, doing a lot of great things. The trip, because of these nice alums, also encouraged me a lot not to limit my options. I also think Washington week is a great way for people to learn to engage in professional social talk. The sessions are less intimidating than individual informational interviews as you are with a lot of peers. But you also get the chance to ask a lot of questions and follow-up with the speaker.

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Keith Witham, A.B. '01, A.M. '06

I ended up in the Washington D.C. metro area as a result of gaining exposure, through SSA's Washington Week program, to the endless variety of job opportunities there. That exposure was so critical in helping me make the case in my own job application process, I felt like the best thing I could do to help current SSA students was to provide them as much information as I possibly could about the range of types of jobs and roles that SSA had prepared us to do and how to frame the SSA experience vis-a-vis those different types of opportunities. In some cases, I was able to point students to actual job opportunities through the networks I'd developed; but more importantly, I hoped to do my part to expand the horizons of how SSA students understand their immense professional potential.

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Julia E. Conte, A.M. '11

As a first year student, Washington Week provided me valuable information of what I should do to prepare for a job in D.C. as well as what to expect when applying for positions. I learned the details of the federal hiring process including job searching, fellowship opportunities, keywords to use in questionnaire answers, and more. Also, I learned about the differences between research and policy in the federal government as opposed to a national nonprofit. Not only did I gain valuable information, but I made contacts with alums that were eager to help and had fun in the process!

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Kate Englund, A.M. '11

Washington Week opened my eyes to job possibilities that I didn't even know existed. I was skeptical that Washington Week would offer me very many relevant contacts since I want to go into international work, but I found that SSA has managed to create a helpful network of people who can connect you to other people working in the D.C. area.

I found every presentation interesting, informative, and helpful for me to reflect on my own SSA experience, the goals I have for my second year at SSA, and how I want to apply the social work skills I am learning now to a future career. I highly recommend for students to go in their first year so that they can reflect on how they want to use their SSA degree and the possibilities their education is opening for them. I can now go into my second year armed with multiple business cards of people I am totally comfortable contacting to help me in the job search process.

Thanks for everything you do to continue making Washington Week happen!

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Amanda Flott, A.M. '11

The Washington Week trip is by far the most beneficial program that I have had the opportunity to participate in since starting SSA last fall. As a first year student, I planned to attend simply to figure out what jobs were most interesting and a good fit for me in the future. What I got out of this experience in the end was so much more than that. Professional contacts/mentors, internships, job offers, candid informal interviews, and a variety of leads to follow up on for future careers or roles of interest to me, were just a few of the immediate benefits from my experience on this trip.

I would highly recommend it to EVERY first year student at the school interested in learning more about jobs that are available outside of the stereotyped direct service work so commonly associated with our field. This was particularly useful to me as an administrative student, where future jobs in social work aren't so defined. This experience opened my eyes to a new realm of career possibilities and people who are eager and motivated to find a place for me in their work place. I came to SSA with a very narrow focus and personal agenda for my studies and my future career. After meeting with so many dynamic alumni, in so many different roles, I have not only further enhanced my focus, but also found former students who share my same focus and currently work in that area now. I plan on continuing and using the relationships I was able to form with these SSA graduates to benefit not only my future career planning, but also my hopes of getting a job immediately after graduation in a place that is a great fit for me next June.

Overall, I think this is one of the best programs available to network, discuss, and learn about future opportunities available within our field of social work first hand from the people who are doing them. It's just a ridiculously wonderful bonus that those same people already have something in common with you; that being, we are all apart of a larger University of Chicago SSA family and just like in a real family we take care of each other. Thanks again for all your hard work to make this a reality. I really can't thank you enough!

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Ashley Jackson, A.M. '11

The most important thing I learned from Washington Week was to not be shy about reaching out to connections in D.C.. In addition another thing I found surprisingly helpful was advice from a majority of the site visit hosts to not be shy about articulating your own accomplishments and how D.C. is not a place to always be modest.

Washington Week was especially helpful because it provided me with the confidence that I can survive in a place as politically charged as D.C. if I only utilized the right contacts. Furthermore, it was especially helpful to witness how the brand of SSA and the University of Chicago holds a great deal of weight in the job application process with employers in the D.C. job market.

I would encourage 1st year students to attend if they're looking to work in federal government jobs as many of the deadlines are in the fall. I would also encourage 2nd year students to attend as they may meet someone during Washington Week who may be a great lead or source of support in landing them a job after graduation. There really isn't a "good" time to go as I think the earlier in your SSA education the better! I'm a first year and am so thankful for this opportunity to attend. I fully plan on attending next year as well!

It was a great experience overall and I met some really nice, genuine, honest, and helpful fellow SSA Alumni.

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Elizabeth M. Johnson, A.M. '11

I have been thinking about what I would tell first years about Washington Week...and it has been difficult to put into words the experience that I had. Washington Week truly made a significant impact on my graduate career. I came back from the trip more clear about the classes I should explore, what interests me, and the steps I need to take to work in D.C. whether in a nonprofit or in government. Before Washington Week, I was offered three internships for my second year field placement, and I was lost as to which internship would be most beneficial. This week helped me make that decision, and I finally accepted a position today.

Washington Week gave me the opportunity to connect with other current SSA students—second years and evening students. My interactions with other students were a great source of advice, encouragement, and we even started to network among each other regarding internships and jobs. Finally, this week reinforced my decision to attend SSA—the sense of community that this school has fostered is truly amazing.

Numerous alumni took time out of their busy schedule to meet with us and attend the night event at Cosmos Club. SSA graduates have made significant contributions to the D.C. community and to the many agencies and institutions that they work for! Thanks!

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Tim Mudd, A.M. '11

Initially, Washington Week was appealing to me because I was looking for practical examples of how I could use the skills I am acquiring at SSA. I was expecting Washington Week to provide me with perspective and guidance as I plan my remaining time at SSA. Unequivocally, my expectations were met and exceeded. Each session provided a unique and practical example of how the skills acquired at SSA can successfully translate into meaningful work in the public and private sectors.

Additionally, the alumni provided us with several helpful tips to increase the possibility of acquiring a position with a government agency. I wasn't aware of the intricacies of the government hiring process, and the alumni really broke it down for us. If a student is interested in working with a non-profit or foundation, several alumni are doing meaningful work that is impacting the greater community. Whatever you want to do, there is an alumnus in D.C. that can provide a valuable perspective.

Also, I can't forget, it was a lot of fun! It was an opportunity to experience things I hadn't before, whether it was sipping wine at the extravagant Cosmos Club, or rubbing shoulders with some of D.C.'s most talented professionals. Michael Jogerst said before we left, "you'll be exhausted by Friday if you did it right." I definitely was tired by the end of the week, but it was certainly worth it. I highly recommend it to anyone. Even if you know exactly what you want to do upon graduation, Washington Week can give you a new perspective. Michael, our gracious organizer, went out of his way to give us a great and worthwhile experience, and it didn't disappoint.

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Kirstin Noe, A.M. '11

Washington Week was a fantastic opportunity for me to witness the great work that many SSA alumni are doing. As a social administration student, I am often perplexed about the careers that social administration students choose when they graduate.

I think it is very easy to conceive potential clinical jobs—that is what social work has long been known for. Yet, the "social administration" jobs do not always come to mind. For example, one would never think of working as a Financial and Program Analyst at the Treasury Department, as James Miner does, when graduating as an SSA student. Washington Week was an enriching experience as it provided insight into the very unique degree that social administration students have and how recent alum have used their skills in various fields.

As an evening student, I came to Washington Week with significant work experience and an understanding of how various organizational cultures really affect a job experience. I think these experiences heightened my awareness of the different organizations we visited and provoked questions that a student without experience may not have always asked. For example, I really enjoyed speaking with Sarah Marshall about her experience working previously as a consultant, and now as an analyst with the GAO. She was able to elaborate on the various cultural differences between these two jobs, which was very insightful to me personally as I contemplate moving to a new job upon graduation.

I very much appreciated the insight, honesty and general enthusiasm that all of the SSA alumni shared throughout our experience. It is obvious that they all enjoy the jobs and, in my opinion, are really making a difference. A select few of the lessons I learned are as follows:

  • The SSA Program Evaluation class is IMPORTANT! think nearly every alumni recommended it! In addition, individuals interested in policy analysis should look into taking quantitative classes as this is often necessary for jobs.
  • When you feel as though you are no longer learning something in a job, it's time to move on. Although it seems like a basic concept, I think it's a monumental piece of advice that is often overlooked as individuals get caught-up in the daily tasks and responsibilities of their jobs.
  • Don't let a job description deter you from applying!
  • SSA and the social administration track have granted us an incredibly unique set of skills that can be applied to a variety of positions. We need to market ourselves as individuals who are capable of critical analysis, but also capable of understanding the various social issues that plague the families and institutions that many policies affect.
  • Excellent advice on the federal hiring process.

I enthusiastically recommend that all students at SSA take advantage of Washington Week—it is an amazing opportunity to speak with alumni who are living out the mission of SSA in the world. It is a very rich experience that allows one to understand the various career paths that are available to SSA alum and how one can navigate the career exploration process.

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Jeff Simms, A.M. Candidate 2012

Washington Week promises to be one of the most helpful experiences I will have in determining my career path and how to get where I want to go. The trip provides the opportunity to learn about career possibilities I would never have considered and gave a first hand look at daily life in many government and non-profit agencies.

Going on Washington Week has put me a step ahead of my peers when it comes to applying for positions through the federal government and fellowships. More importantly, I learned what I need to study now and how I need to sell my abilities in the future to make sure that I will always have the opportunities I hope for.

Washington Week is something that every first year student should go on.

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Rachel Steele, A.M. Candidate 2012

As promised, Washington Week proved to be a week of much learning—learning about myself, about the opportunities before me, and about the things I needed to do to position myself for those opportunities. Washington Week exposed me, like nothing else could, to the overwhelming breadth of jobs available to individuals graduating from SSA with an administration focus. This was both encouraging and affirming, especially for one not yet sure where she hopes to go or who she hopes to "be." The opportunity to ask uninhibited questions of D.C. alums and gathering information about and gaining insight into the various fellowship opportunities were the two most critical and helpful components of the week for me. As a first year, I deliberated for some time as to whether I would go this year or next, and I am beyond grateful I took the chance this year. I now have a lot of time to absorb all that I was exposed to, time to plan and take advantage of opportunities, and time to follow-up with some of the people I met. I highly encourage all admin students to take advantage of this week, especially if you are a first-year student lacking direction or thinking about working in policy, analysis, and advocacy.

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