Tyler Michels is a senior graduating this Fall semester and is currently interning with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. The CCAI is a nonprofit that closely works with the largest bipartisan caucus in Congress. During his time there, Tyler has assisted with fundraising research, researching the foster care system, policy research, as well as a number of administrative duties. Harrison Vaughan, the PSIA student aide, interviewed him so that other students can learn about his experience and insights about an internship, as well as his experience studying abroad, and his future plans.
As a student, Tyler knew that he wanted to intern with a nonprofit organization; and so he researched and applied for a number of internships in D.C. After a few internship interviews, Tyler decided to intern with CCAI. The position that he was offered was as an Administration and Development Intern, although that was not his first choice. He had also applied for a number of policy focused internships, but ultimately accepted this position. As it turns out, in addition to his duties in administration, Tyler has also helped with policy research on the foster care system. To this point, Tyler suggests not to ignore a position because it is not exactly what you had in mind. Even if you do not get the opportunity to do what you wanted, the experience that you earn will be critical in the future.
Some students may have concerns about the logistics of an internship at D.C., such as finding an internship, transportation there and back, and balancing classes and work. While there are many ways to solve these problems, here is what Tyler did. As mentioned before, Tyler knew generally that he wanted to work with a nonprofit organization on Capitol Hill. From there he looked into a number of places online and built his resume to match the applications. After accepting the CCAI internship offer, the next step was figuring out how to get to D.C. His internship schedule is 1-5 p.m. Monday – Friday, so he tailored his class schedule to that. By taking all of his classes in the morning, that leaves him time to drive the hour to D.C. Additionally, he kept the classes he was taking to 12 credits, so with the 3 with the internship he could be at 15 for the semester. This way, his class work is relatively lower and more manageable.
One last thing that I wanted to ask Tyler about was his study abroad opportunity last summer. He went to Chiang Mai in Thailand for two months to study human rights in Southeast Asia. Studying abroad provided him the experience to learn the Thai language in Chiang Mai, and familiarize himself with the political and economic struggles Thai people face in the northern region. Tyler truly enjoyed the experience and recommends studying abroad to anyone who might be interested.
Looking forward, Tyler is looking to pursue a job in government after graduating, whether as a congressional staff member, working with another nonprofit agency, or working in a state government position. Regardless, the experience he has earned through his internship and other experiences at UMW have set him up for success. Before ending, Tyler would like to recommend interning at CCAI to anyone who is interested in the foster care system. The Spring internship application closes in December, so feel free to apply through Handshake or visit their home website: http://www.ccainstitute.org