Job Hunting Guide: Student interns get low pay, big perks

Even before Monica Lewinsky made interning one of the most famous forms of student employment, co-eds had been coming to Washington, D.C., with visions of internships dancing in their heads.

Many GW students said that while their wallets have not grown thicker from their internships, their wealth of knowledge and job preparedness has increased while also providing them with exciting experiences and valuable contacts.

I get the inside scoop on how everything works, said sophomore Brad Stein, who is an unpaid intern at the Whitman Walker Clinic. Stein, who plans to pursue a career in medicine, previously spent a summer interning at a hospital near his home in Georgia and also volunteers at the GW Hospital.

Kristen Zaehringer, a sophomore political communication major and Italian minor, is an unpaid intern at the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy.

I get paid to speak Italian from the moment I walk in the door to the moment I leave, said Zaehringer, who said her job description includes researching Italy’s cultural, economic and political history and preparing for events.

Zaehringer, who plans to pursue a career in government, said she has made valuable contacts while strengthening her language skills. And there are certain perks that come with slaving away without pay – Zaehringer said she got to attend a Christmas party at the home of the Italian ambassador’s house.

Sophomore Mark SooHoo, majoring in political communication, has interned at several different places, both in D.C. and near his home in New Jersey, to prepare for his intended career involving politics and the Internet. SooHoo said while he hones skills that will help him in his future career he also has been able to network, helping him to get other internships and jobs.

Somebody, by the grace of God, remembered me, SooHoo said of a recommendation he got from a previous internship experience who helped him get his current paying job at Hockaday Donatelli Campaign Solutions, a company that helps design and maintain Web sites for political candidates.

Like Zaehringer, SooHoo said his current job has some amazing perks. A couple of weeks ago, he got to attend a reception on Capitol Hill for Rep. J.C. Watts Jr.’s (R-Okla.) political action committee, American Renewal. While waiting in line for food, SooHoo said he and Watts had an interesting conversation.

He walked up to me and said `this is the best Southern food I’ve had in D.C.,’ SooHoo said.

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