Political science major Sarah Aldridge pursued two part-time internships in Washington, D.C., during fall 2016: one with the Sustained Dialogue Institute and another with the Senate HELP Committee.
For political science major Sarah Aldridge, the opportunity to complete two internships in Washington, D.C., during fall semester of her senior year showed how her interests in education, policy and social justice could intersect for a future career.
Aldridge spent 20 hours a week working with the Sustained Dialogue Institute (SDI), a nonprofit organization that teaches college students how to transform difficult relationships and create tangible change. She also spent 20 hours a week with the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
“I had the chance to meet such amazing people at various organizations through briefings, receptions and coordinated meetings,” said Aldridge of Concord, North Carolina, who is a Wilson Scholar at Appalachian State University. “Before this experience, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to contribute to the field of education reform. My internships helped me discover how my strengths and passions can best work to create positive change in the world of education.”
At SDI, she worked with staff in developing and carrying out projects that assisted its Sustained Dialogue Campus Network in trainings and diversity work. Appalachian is among the network’s nearly 60 campuses worldwide. She also participated in event planning for the National Dialogue Awards, which honored U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
With the Senate HELP Committee, she attended policy briefings and wrote memos, assisted in research of education policies and worked with staff members on regulation recommendations for current education reforms.
“Sometimes, it can be really difficult on campus to understand how the things we’re learning will impact not only our future careers, but society as a whole. These internships gave me an amazing view of the role I can play in education reform. And of course, I learned lots about networking, strengthened my research skills and other professional skills that you don’t always pick up on until you’re in the field.”
Networking at a student conference led to the SDI internship. An Internet search for “education internships in Washington, D.C.” connected her with the Senate HELP committee. A similar search has helped her secure yet another internship – this time with the District of Columbia Public Schools in summer 2017.
“I would absolutely recommend an internship to other students, because I think it is the best way possible to really understand your career trajectory and your skills,” Aldridge said.