Catching Up With The Fund For American Studies

Mar 03, 2021 – Delta Sigma Pi works with The Fund for American Studies to provide exclusive scholarships to help Deltasigs attend their program.

The Fund For American Studies (TFAS) sponsors the Business and Government Relations Academic Internship Program, combining substantive internships, courses for academic credit from George Mason University, professional development seminars, various networking opportunities, and exclusive briefings and lectures led by prominent policy and business experts.

Of course like every organization enduring the pandemic, TFAS has pivoted to continue providing opportunities to Deltasigs. We recently caught up with them to ask how they have continued providing programming throughout COVID-19. 

When COVID hit last year your organization had to pivot very quickly when it came to internship placements. What did that process look like? 

It was a little scary at first to be honest. We had no idea how many of our normal internship partners would be willing to host students remotely. However, once we came up with a good virtual schedule, we really played the role of coach in many ways. By that, I mean we tried to be really encouraging and let them know this was a very doable thing. We held an online webinar “Tips and Tricks for Hosting a Remote Intern” that was open to any employer in Washington, D.C. We got very positive feedback from many participants.

Once a company or organization agreed to take on a virtual intern what did your team do to help lay the groundwork?

We were learning as we went along but one of the first things we did was to help them think outside of a normal 9 to 5 mindset. Since students were interning from across the country in different time zones, we encouraged project based assignments for interns. Students also interned a variety of hours during the week. Between 15 to 25 hours on average. This truncated schedule made it easier for supervisors to manage their interns. Remember, employers were trying to navigate getting their regular employees used to working remotely. Having interns that didn’t need to be managed every minute of every day made things much easier for everyone. I have to hand it to our internship partners though. They took a real leap of faith in many ways. We were grateful that they did so.

After an entire summer and fall in the "virtual internship" space what have you learned?

Gosh, we learned a great deal. Most important, I think everyone learned that a virtual internship was not only possible but beneficial to the student and the internship site. We learned that flexibility and patience were key ingredients. Getting quickly comfortable with technology was critical of course. Our interns sometimes helped in this regard-playing “tech mentor” to the baby boomers at their internship who were often freaked out over Zoom and other platforms.

One of your program tracks is Business & Government Relations. Can you explain to our members why business majors should take a look at your program? 

Absolutely. Our Business & Government Relations track gives students the opportunity to learn how a company interacts with Congress, federal agencies, and policy makers in Washington, D.C. Students also learn how a company advocates on behalf of their shareholders and members to help shape legislation and policy. A business major who has been exposed to this interplay between business and government is going to be more attractive to future employers and will have more options when it comes time to start looking for work after graduation.

What advice would you give to students who are contemplating either an in person or virtual internship this summer? 

Well that’s easy to answer! They should apply to our program at Seriously though, while I hope students will take a good look at our program, my advice would be the following:  Start looking immediately. Be open to interning at a variety of places. Sometimes students want the “big name” or nothing at all. Often a lesser known firm or company is going to give you more hands on experience. Finally whether your internship is in person or virtual, strive to be the best intern that company has ever hosted. Treat your entire internship like a summer long job interview. Knock it out of the park and you’ll be their top candidate if an entry level position becomes available.
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