This March, four Beloiters had an exceptional spring break. They weren’t bound for Cancun or Vegas; there were no road trips, beaches, or family gatherings for these students. Sophomores Amara Pugens, Adedamola Isaac Bamgbose, Teng (Ted) Liu, and Adriana Terrones spent the bulk of their break in Washington D.C. as part of Beloit College’s first job-shadowing program at the capitol.
The students had about four days in D.C. with two days of job shadowing “externships” at the workplaces of alumni or the parents of Beloit students. They even lived with their hosts and their families.
Pugens, who is majoring in history and anthropology, shadowed Carrie Beauchamps at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and Michael Levy at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Bamgbose, an economics and management major, shadowed Colin O’Neil, policy analyst with the Institute for Food Safety. Liu, an anthropology and economics and management major, shadowed Adam Koons, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Relief with International Relief and Development. Terrones, undecided, shadowed Jim Dickson, Vice President for Governmental Affairs at the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD).
The trip was “chaperoned” (though they’d cringe at the word) by Director of Community-Based Learning Carol Wickersham and Leslie Kidder’02 from External Affairs.
“It was very successful,” said Wickersham of the program. “There’s a large number of alumni in D.C. [and] this was a rich opportunity to explore those connections.”
For two days, the students had access to people, places and events normally beyond the reach of undergraduates. For example, Bamgbose was able to observe how advocates work with legislators on a daily basis to shape policy. Through her internship with the AAPD, Terrones learned about community organization “at the highest level,” said Wickersham.
Pugens found exactly what she looking for in her externships. Her favorite experience was seeing the anthropological collections at the Smithsonian—including a hefty load of human remains. Her interest in bones is more than macabre: “I, with all my heart, want to be an archivist at a museum,” she said. “Through this opportunity, I feel I have a better insight on what to plan for and what to expect.”
Liu attended meetings with his host and observed him coordinate relief work around the world. The experience reinforced his interest in international development and humanitarian work. “I am especially interested in promoting global development through trade, which combines my majors [of] economics and anthropology,” said Liu’13.
The most surprising thing about life on the hill? “You need lots of business cards in D.C.!” he recalled.
Wickersham hopes the job shadowing program will continue in the future. She envisions holding it in different cities and making connections with alumni across the country. “Our alumni are probably our richest resource,” she said. “The more contact between students and alumni, the better.”
Keep an eye out for the students’ reflections about the experience on the Beloit and Beyond Blog at www.beloit.edu/beloitandbeyondblog.