Syracuse University D.C. Immersion. "Cherry Blossoms at the Jefferson memorial" photo courtesy of Michael Foley (www.flickr.com/photos/michaelfoleyphotography)

D.C. Immersion Week: Spring Break

As Syracuse University students, we have amazing opportunities and experiences available at the tips of our fingers. More specifically as iSchool students, we all know about road trips, AsiaTech and EuroTech, and Spring Break in Silicon Valley. But have you ever thought about the D.C. Immersion Week?

What is the D.C. Immersion Week?

Since 2012, the D.C. Immersion Week program has become a prestigious and signature program of Syracuse University. Every spring break, 20 sophomore-standing students, of any major, travel to Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD, to get a real-life experience of what working and living there is like. The program is sponsored by the Greenberg House, SU Career Services, the Office of Alumni Engagement, and local alumni to provide these selected students an eye-opening experience that includes tours of corporate, government and nonprofit organization visits, and networking opportunities with past alumni.

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Our First Day

Monday morning we hopped on the Metro and started our day at the U.S. Department of State. Here, we met with alumni specifically within the Bureau of International Information Programs. We proceeded with a tour of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. Our next stop was World Bank where we also had lunch. We had a discussion panel with alumni working in different sectors. We got to know them through their stories about how they ended up where they are today. Just another Metro stop away was Winning Strategies Washington, a leading government relations firm. We again met with Alumni and learned about lobbying. That night, we had the chance to hear Vincent Cohen Jr., the former Acting U.S. Attorney for D.C., speak at dinner and learn his story all the way from when he was just a child, to his career at Syracuse, and thereon.

Just another Metro stop away was Winning Strategies Washington, a leading government relations firm. We again met with alumni and learned about lobbying. That night, we had the chance to hear Vincent Cohen Jr., the former Acting U.S. Attorney for D.C., speak at dinner and learn his story all the way from when he was just a child, to his career at Syracuse, and thereon.

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A Little Snow Can’t Stop Us!

As Syracuse students, we are used to walking to class in 10 inches of snow. But in D.C., we learned that one inch or just the mere prediction shuts down the city. Although a few of our visits were canceled, the snow couldn’t stop us. We visited the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and got an exclusive tour with Syracuse alumni. Later, we met with Jacqueline Harris who works for the American Council of Young Political Leaders who left us with words of advice and internship opportunities. For dinner, we all split off into small groups and got the chance to have personal dinners with alumni. This was my favorite part of the entire trip as we got to know more alumni on a personal level and relate to their Syracuse experiences.

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Later, we met with Jacqueline Harris who works for the American Council of Young Political Leaders. Jacqueline left us with words of advice and internship opportunities. For dinner, we all split off into small groups and got the chance to have personal dinners with alumni. This was my favorite part of the entire trip, as we got to know more alumni on a personal level and relate to their Syracuse University experiences.

Wednesday morning was a favorite for many students – NASA Headquarters. We met with a panel of Syracuse alumni in a wide range of positions at NASA and had a question and answer session. We then went on Capitol Hill excursions on our own, which allowed us to see what roaming around the city was like and became experts at taking the Metro.

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Maxwell and the iSchool

When we met back up at the Greenberg House, we met with Helen Zughaib, Cultural Envoy at the U.S. Department of State who shared her artistic journey in D.C. We then learned more about the Maxwell D.C. Semester Program, where you take classes as well as complete an internship. Even as an iSchool student, we are eligible to apply!

That night, the Greenberg House hosted a networking reception with recent graduates and Immersion Week donors. We all bonded over our love of Orange but also were able to make connections with older individuals in our fields of study.

On Thursday morning, we visited the Washington Post and got to tour their building as well as partake in a panel discussion with alumni. We then drove to Maryland where we volunteered at Leveling the Playing Field, a non-profit that gives underprivileged children access to sports by providing athletic gear and equipment. That evening, we again had small group dinners to create more personal connections and networks.

On our last day, we headed to Baltimore where we met with alumni at Under Armour, Inc. They shared with us their stories, internship and job opportunities, and a tour of their facilities. This was one of my favorite visits, as the company culture was welcoming and vibrant with many young employees and an innovative working environment.

After, we volunteered at the Living Classrooms Foundation sponsored by UA. The program focuses on inspiring young people in urban areas by providing them with after-school education and extra-curricular activities. Our last visit was Bustin’ Boards, a skateboard company where we met with an alum who told his journey as an entrepreneur.

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What I Got Out of It

As a participant in the 2017 D.C. Immersion Week program, I can whole-heartedly say that this trip was life-changing. Not only did I learn more about what living in D.C. was like, but I was also able to gain more clarity into what all I can do with my Information Management and Technology degree. Furthermore, I was able to connect with alumni and create personal relationships with them as well as build friendships with fellow Syracuse students that I would’ve maybe never had the opportunity to meet without this program.

This trip really opened my eyes to all the opportunities that are really out there for IM&T majors; everyone needs technology and that’s never going away. I encourage all upcoming sophomores to look out for this opportunity and apply! Yes, spring break in Miami is nice, but this is an opportunity of a lifetime to meet alumni, meet a diverse group of students, and get a better understanding of what may lie ahead in your future.

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Thank you to Tracy, Mary, Kristin, Skylar, Meredith, and all the alumni who worked toward making this D.C. Immersion Trip as awesome as it was!

Krysta Gnidziejko

Krysta Gnidziejko

Krysta Gnidziejko is a sophomore majoring in Information Management and Technology. On campus, she is involved in BeIT, WIT-U, and Kappa Kappa Gamma, Beta Tau Chapter. She grew up a military child and currently lives in Japan. Krysta is passionate about traveling, kids, and good food.

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