When several professors prompted Josie Cambareri ('15) to apply for a new internship offered through The Washington Center (TWC) in D.C., the criminal justice and political science major had never even been to the nation's capital. But that didn't stop her from embracing the challenge. "The more I learned about it, the more I realized that this was a big deal," she said.
Since 1975, TWC has run the largest program of its kind with more than 50,000 alumni from more than 400 colleges and universities in the United States and around the world. When TWC selected 10 UNC Charlotte students for an academic internship to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, an opportunity for a broader, longer-term partnership emerged. The City of Charlotte agreed to provide the financial resources for 10 TWC interns, becoming the first and only municipal entity in the country to do so.
While interning full time, each TWC intern must also take an academic course, commit to a civic-engagement project and attend weekly seminars or workshops. Cambareri landed a coveted internship with the Department of Justice and was chosen to be a paid blogger for the TWC website.
"I underestimated every experience I've had here," said Cambareri, who interned over the fall 2013 semester. "I have attended a lot of organized sight-seeings, museum tours and professional development workshops. I also had a chance to meet with Senator Kay Hagan.
"I truly feel I have one of the best internships out there," she said. "Third-year law students applied for the internship I got. I get to do things that are relevant to both of my majors. I learn about the inter-workings of government and how agencies interact. I get to learn about criminal law, read statutes, study elements of crime, how we help other countries and vice versa."
Instead of helping her winnow her career path, however, Cambareri said the experience has made her more unsure of what lies ahead for her. "I thought I would leave here knowing exactly what I want to do, but more doors and opportunities have presented themselves to me. I am considering law school and graduate school."