From campus to the capital: Baylor in Washington offers real-world career experience

Baylor in Washington students visit the Supreme Court. Photo courtesy of Haley Mcaveney

By Ashlyn Kennedy | Reporter

Baylor in Washington is in full swing this semester as students pursue diverse opportunities related to their career paths, both in and out of the classroom.

The semester-long program provides students with the opportunity to live in Washington and gain professional development through an internship.

Portland, Ore., sophomore Ethan McBride is working as a research intern for the Center for Public Justice, looking at how legislation can affect faith-based child care. He said he went to Washington unsure of what he wanted to do for a career, but his experience with policy has given him insight.

It’s a Christian think tank, so they orient the work we’re doing from the perspective of public justice,” McBride said. “Something I’ve really learned in my internship is how faith and political life as a Christian works.”

McBride said he is grateful for his hands-on experience in the program so far.

“Studying abroad in a complex environment like D.C. really forces you to get used to stepping out of your comfort zone,” McBride said. “It forces you to reorient your priorities and your schedule, and it gives you an opportunity to refocus your life.”

In addition to their internships, students take two classes: a research and writing seminar and a public policy innovation course. While students write research papers in the seminar, the public policy innovation course brings in rotating lecturers who touch on all parts of the political process.

Orange Country, Calif., junior Haley Mcaveney said her public policy course — law and religion in the United States — has been an impactful part of her experience because of the opportunity to hear from people in diverse careers. She said she also appreciates being able to “think a little bit deeper” with her peers on important topics.

“Hearing their political thoughts challenges me in my own and reminds me about the humanity of people,” Mcaveney said. “That class has been super formative in exposing me to different perspectives, whether that be from the lecturers that come into the classroom or from peers who are sitting around me.”

Baylor in Washington also provides several opportunities for networking. The program hosts alumni events and connects students to professionals in the area.

According to Mcaveney, the program encourages students to find and be in contact with Baylor alumni who have pursued different careers. She said this has formed her idea of what she wants to do after college.

“Being here in D.C. has allowed me to dip my toes in the water of career paths, the real world and postgraduate life,” Mcaveney said.

Shreveport, La., junior Mina King said being in Washington presents an “amazing opportunityto take what is taught in classes and apply it to the real world.

“In class, we learn all of these theories about how the process of forming legislation works and the political process, and it’s really cool to see that play out in person,” King said. “To go into hearings where they are talking about prospective issues or voting on bills is a profoundly humbling and amazing experience that I’m so grateful to have.”

King said her time interning so far has been a great learning curve and has prepared her for working in the real world.

“In class, you have things expected of you, but to have people depending on you to fulfill your job is very different and a valuable experience I’m glad I’ve had before I graduated college,” King said.

Baylor in Washington students will continue their internships and studies through the end of the semester. McBride said he has already learned and grown from participating in the program.

“I came here looking for discernment and opportunities to grow personally, and I think I’ve definitely found that,” McBride said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to look back and hopefully see that there’s been a lot of fruition in that area.”