271 miles from Carolina: The Burch Field Seminar

The following blog was written by Diane Li, a Junior in the Bonner Leaders Program at the Campus Y. Diane works at Jackson Center this year. 

From the very beginning of my Carolina experience, I wanted to study abroad. Little did I know that I would end up in Washington DC—among the more extravagant choices like Spain, the UK, France or Australia.

People always laugh when they hear that of all places, that is where I chose to go— but I could not be any happier. As I close off my junior year, I am beginning to see how important this experience is for my future career. I have a clearer sense of what I want to do post-graduation than I ever had before and I still get the to live away from the Carolina campus for the semester.

If you are planning to go into policy work like me, Washington DC is the place to be. It is filled with think tanks, lobbying groups, policymakers and more. Moreover, they are hungry for hard-working interns that can help contribute to their cause.

Lucky enough, UNC has a program that is specifically catered towards learning domestic and international policy, right in the hub of it all. We get an opportunity to network with UNC alum (there are a lot of them here) and with people who have established careers in public service. But the reason I was led here in the first place was my experience as a Bonner. For the past two and a half years as a Bonner has taught me how important of a role the government pays in advancing social justice goals. We are all limited by the bounds of the law, and policy can be an extremely effective tool in helping a broad scope of people. If you look at all the safety net program such as unemployment insurance, SNAP, Medicaid—these are all policies built into our federal budget to help Americans who are more vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy.

Personally, I think it is wonderful to have the opportunity to work with people that I aspire to be in the future. If you are still looking for summer internship opportunities, take Washington DC into consideration. At least then, it won’t be as cold!