2019 Student testimonials

Meet some of our 2019 interns

interns in dc 2019

Alison Chen

Bachelor of Arts (Global Studies) and Bachelor of Laws
Internship Placement: Senator James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma

"Spending my time working, studying and living in Washington DC was an incredible way of spending my summer break. Although challenging at times, the skills, friendships and experiences I have gained are things I will cherish forever.

My workday was varied and vast, ranging from attending congressional briefings about US international relations, to shadowing meetings with stakeholders about language teaching in universities, to writing research briefs on pharmaceutical policy and trade. It was intellectually challenging and stimulating, and deepened my understanding of US politics and international relations in general. Moreover, it further enhanced my interpersonal skills and critical thinking, which are valuable skills in university and in the workforce.

Alison Chen

The classes and talks are UCDC further enriched my experiences in DC. Classes ranged from interviewing leading journalists, election strategists, former chiefs of staff and academics, to going to the White House press room and C-SPAN headquarters. On weekends there were plenty of opportunities to explore DC’s historical and cultural sites and travel to nearby cities such as New York with your new American and Australian friends.

The USSC made the process so easy by guiding us every step of the way – from organising visas, to selecting courses, to helping us settle back in Sydney upon our return, their assistance definitely reduced a lot of stress and allowed us to enjoy our experience to the fullest. I can’t recommend this challenging and fulfilling program highly enough - if I could do it again, I would!"

Nina Kerwin-Roman

Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws
Internship Placement: National Foreign Trade Council

"Undertaking the USSC's Washington D.C.'s placement program will arguably provide you with an unparalleled international experience that I cannot recommend enough to prospective students.

My internship in D.C. steered me in the direction of a career path of which I am now strongly invested in. Under the close mentorship of two distinguished trade lawyers, I learnt first-hand of how American enterprise and consumers were navigating the distorted intersection of U.S. trade law, global trade bodies like the WTO and the fundamental principles of open, rules-based market trade. In the midst of China-U.S. trade negotiations and the recognition of Section 232 impacts coming to the political fore, my workdays at the NFTC were incredibly varied. A key focus during my internship was the legislative efforts lawmakers were making on the Hill to curb the Executive's use of tariff powers. In D.C., I could have been conducting legal research into the particulars of each bill, to shadowing roundtables with industry stakeholders at member-based alliances about the importance of free trade in the era of rising protectionism. Interestingly, the majority of my internship was actually spent out of office - whereby my most valued memories of the NFTC include gaining a glimpse into the D.C. lobbying space through meeting with various House and Senate offices to educate about distortive economic policy and push for free trade to be at the top of the political agenda.

The lifestyle at UCDC heavily encouraged branching out from your comfort zone, engaging in social activities and fostering collaboration which I urge future students to dive into once there. From day trips of snowtubing in Pennsylvania to stimulating weekly forums with distinguished guests such as U.S. Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, there was never a shortage of engaging opportunities offered on Rhode Island Ave.

D.C.'s proximity to East Coast cultural hotspots was also conducive to spending unforgettable weekends away in New York, Boston or Philadelphia. By travelling with not only my flatmates but also my new American friends, I was able to explore different angles of American culture, 'just as the locals do'. Further, my time outside of working hours in D.C. was incredibly diverse - you could catch us ice-skating in Georgetown, watching a college NFL game with our American friends downstairs, indulging in D.C.'s food scene or catching a last-minute concert on U Street.

The consistent advice and support provided by the USSC simplified what is normally a complex process to travel on exchange. Most importantly, the team at USSC assisted in locating and tailoring an internship that would suit not only my outstanding interests, but the prospects for professional growth, for which I am undeniably grateful.

All in all, there isn't a day that goes past where I don't find myself reflecting on the skills I learnt, the experiences I had and the incredible friends I made. Within 3 months of arriving back in Sydney, I have already travelled back to the West Coast to revisit my closest American friends, and kickstarted an exciting career in Sydney in the same field that I was involved in during my internship in D.C.

I encourage all students to apply for this placement, because all I can say is - the sooner you get back to D.C., the better!"

Cheran Ketheesuran

Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and Bachelor of Laws
Internship Placement: Congressman Paul Cook, California 8th district

"At the start of each student’s university journey, they are told to “make the most of your undergraduate experience”. The two months I spent in the epicenter of global politics were the best of my degree thus far. It is the fusion of professional and personal development which makes the Washington D.C. Placement Program a highly valuable component of any student’s employment portfolio.

Interning in the office of Congressman Paul Cook in the midst of a heated government shutdown was captivating, challenging and rewarding. I would begin my day by answering and responding to constituent calls, emails and letters. Within a fortnight, I knew (almost) every detail of the U.S. Capitol’s history, providing lunchtime tours to constituents, school groups and even the President of Catalonia! Afternoons were spent assisting legislative directors in researching areas of policy pertaining to the Congressman’s assignments: in this case, Armed Services and Native Americans. Amongst the hustle of life as a congressional intern, there is a wide scope of freedom in attending briefings, luncheons and receptions across the Hill and D.C. Free food aside, being metres away from Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan, Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell and Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, was both intellectually stimulating and surreal.


The academic rigour of my placement was supplemented by taking subjects as varied as ‘Money, Message, Media’, taught by a Senior Executive Producer at C-SPAN (also known as The Most Patient Man on Television) and ‘The American Presidency and Executive Power’ from a former Elections Specialist at the National Education Association. Combined with weekly Monday Night Forums featuring Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and President of the Center for International Policy, Salih Booker, this program truly reflects its location as the fulcrum of global academic thought.

Luckily, my time in D.C. was not all work and no play. College basketball and NBA games were a huge hit, as were the numerous Smithsonian museums and impromptu snowball fights in D.C. Whether it be seeing Wicked and savouring Joe’s Pizza in New York, devouring cheesesteaks in Philadelphia or standing inside the Saturn V Rocket at the Houston Space Centre, it was the times spent travelling with friends, both Australian and American that I will remember the most. It is perhaps this component that truly defines the Washington D.C. Placement program: the opportunity to live and work with Americans, taking home a gamut of experiences, knowledge and friends whom will remain invaluable throughout your life. Nearly any student can benefit from this program, and whilst parting with a summer at the beach was a kicker, these two months were ultimately, life-changing."

Anuki Suraweera

Bachelor of Arts (Government and International relations) and Bachelor of Law
Internship Placement: New-Rule LLC

"As an Australian student, particularly one invested in political issues and international relations, I found that the whirlwind 9 weeks in D.C. were some of the best of my degree. The immersive experience of living, working and studying in D.C. is incredibly rewarding, and unique to this placement.

Our classes in D.C. allowed us to grapple with the key questions of the 2019 government shutdown and President Trump’s policies while those issues were having real consequences around us. Each week brought something new - class visits from prominent political consultants, a visit to the White House Press Room and the opportunity to talk to the author of our class text being a few highlights. We benefited from phenomenal coordinators (including C-SPAN’s Steve Scully who took this photo with me and taught a brilliant class) and I really appreciated the engaging and challenging classes that were offered.

My internship was the highlight of my trip. The opportunity to be guided by highly experienced professionals in your field of choice and gain experience in Washington D.C., arguably the heart of international politics and policy, was immensely rewarding. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t anything out of the ordinary as a Sri Lankan Australian, walking into a multinational, multilingual office space shared by multiple organisations carrying out international development and legal work. I very much value all the experience I gained and I was blown away by the opportunities I was given as an intern.

If that weren’t enough, weekend trips to New York and the opportunity to become closer to students, both American and Australian, made this program even greater. The program was not only an amazing experience but it also continues to benefit me professionally and personally, and has broadened my horizons immeasurably. I encourage any student who is able to participate to not hesitate."

Phillip Xie

Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and Bachelor of Laws
Internship Placement: The Aluminum Association, Public Affairs Intern

"Interning at Washington DC was truly a memorable and dynamic experience. Interning at a trade association offered me insights into both the dynamics of company movements and competition within industry, as well as how Association influencers engage in the political dialogue. Some of the activities involved my engagement in committee meetings with companies like Rio Tinto negotiating industry movements and meetings with policymakers from Congress discussing tariffs and China's distortion of the global market. One memorable experience involved going to Fox and watching an associate do a live segment on TV. Each day offered new opportunities to learn how business, politics and law intertwine in a real-world context.

Phillip Xie

Even outside my internship, there was so much to experience. UCDC provided classes that were thoroughly interesting and evening forums with key political figures. Evening chats with fellow students broadened my understanding of the world and I made unforgettable friendships and memories, many of which continue today. Furthermore, being 4 hours from New York meant that I got to go there twice. I also went to a live NBA game.

The incredible support from the USSC guided us at every step, allowing us to focus on our experience in DC. This program truly facilitated incredible growth both personally and professionally, and I can not recommend it enough to prospective applicants."