Experience Transforms

Experience Transforms

The mission of The Washington Center is to "provide students with transformational experiences that foster academic and professional achievement, leadership and civic engagement."

I have spent a lot of time talking about my experiences since my arrival in Washington, D.C. On that note, this week I am switching gears. First, I must comment on the accuracy of the mission statement of The Washington Center, the phrase you read above. As a TWC participant, you will experience everything they state: professional achievement within your internship, leadership during the required programs and community engagement through required service hours.


One experience I am personally undergoing would be “transformation." Whether it is in your LEAD sessions or simply at Orientation, you hear the phrase “Experience Transforms” quite frequently while at The Washington Center. As always, one phrase can have different meanings to every individual. For some, it may mean transforming from a student to an employee. For me, it means transforming an entire point of view.



Just a brief background on me: I am a Pre-Law student with a Criminal Justice and Political Science double major. I also worked at a law firm for over a year before traveling to D.C. From these experiences, and self-knowledge, I knew I had no interest in criminal law. I believed that it would involve too much emotional attachment and my conscious would weigh too heavy, thus encroaching on my work ability. Therefore, when I first Skyped with my assigned TWC advisor and we discussed my career interests, he said:


“So no criminal law, more research-oriented. Got it.”

I answered him with:
“Well, let’s not take criminal law off the table. I can’t knock it till I try it.”


Once my resume was submitted, of course, my first phone call was from a criminal defense attorney. I was very skeptical about accepting his offer. I discussed with friends, family and internship coordinators from my home university. They all told me not to be hasty with my decision as it was my very first offer… Me, being my worried self, thought I wouldn’t get any other offers. So, I accepted. After I accepted, other offers came rolling in. One happened to be with a branch of The Department of Justice, and I could just kick myself for saying yes too quickly.

During TWC

Now that we are nearly halfway through the semester, I am singing a totally different tune. I am in love with my internship. The attorneys I work for are not only some of the most well respected in D.C., but they are a pleasure to work for. I am never afraid to ask questions, as they are patient and knowledgeable and understand this is supposed to be a learning experience. Since I have been here, I have learned that it is much easier to separate yourself from your work emotionally, and that real criminal law is absolutely nothing like what we see on Law and Order. Secondly, I have learned that Criminal Justice and Political Science textbooks are great, but they do not prepare you for field work at all. This internship has put faces and names to the theoretical problems we used to discuss in the classroom.



My time interning for a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. has not only debunked quite a few myths and misconceptions of mine, but it has also opened my eyes to a whole new fast-paced area of the law. It has shown me that the legal field is a relatively tight-knit community, not a battle ground like we see on television. In turn, these factors make for a very appealing career path. Lastly, interning here in D.C. has helped me decide that big city life is simply not for me. So, thank you TWC for this experience.




Read Nicole's previous blog posts here

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