Washington, D.C., is an epicenter of global communication, politics, and culture. Gaining real-world experience living and working in such a cultural melting pot brings invaluable experiences and opportunities that are unable to be found elsewhere.
Concordia is a part of a consortium of 13 institutions of higher education that take part in the Lutheran College Washington Semester (LCWS). LCWS is a small, personalized internship program through which students can pursue academic and professional opportunities in the nation’s capital. LCWS brings students together from across the country, and around the world, for the experience of a lifetime. Although the program naturally draws students studying majors in the humanities, it is not exclusive to specific disciplines. Students live in apartments located in Rosslyn, Va. – an area of Arlington – and take two classes in addition to their internship. Weekly field trips and networking opportunities are the on the cake of a unique and growth-instilling semester.
There are three main components to the program: the internship experience, classes, and the Washington Experience Module (WEM). Fall and spring semester students intern four full days per week for 14 weeks, with classes taking place in the evenings, and Wednesdays reserved for class field trips and programmed WEM excursions.
The internship is the primary focus of the program. Through the internship, students strengthen their skills, deepen their understanding of the professional world, and gain unparalleled experiences that will set them apart when seeking full-time employment after graduation. While D.C. is best known for being the center of American politics, LCWS works with students of all majors to identify internship opportunities that align with their unique interests and provide real-world experience to further their academic and career goals.
Students pursue two academic courses in a variety of subject areas to augment their professional endeavors. Examples of courses include The Art of Communication in the Nation’s Capital; American Diversity: Issues in Race, Religion Gender; and The Washington Theatre Experience. Classes meet once a week in the evenings for two and a half hours and take place in classrooms located in the lower level of River Place, the apartments that students live in for the semester. The coursework and the internship complement one another, enabling students to gain valuable insight and experience in their chosen field of study. These classes are taught by a variety of faculty members from nearby universities. Upon successful completion of the semester, students earn a full semester of academic credit from their college or university.
The third and final component of the program is the WEM. A core component of the fall and spring semester programs, the WEM is designed to encourage students to explore their interests and passions in the context of Washington, D.C. Through the WEM, students choose an emphasis area for their semester: cultural, political, or professional. Within those emphases, students have the power to choose a variety of activities that will count toward their completion of the module. The module empowers students to take ownership over their semester experience by encouraging them to think reflectively on their interests and providing structured opportunities for them to deepen their understanding of those interests in relation to Washington, D.C. Through community service work, political activism, and professional development seminars, students explore culture, politics, or career planning.
Additionally, while some of the field trips are specific to these emphases, they are programmed every Wednesday for all students to participate in. Past field trips have included:
- U.S. Capitol Tour
- U.S. Supreme Court Tour
- Holocaust Survivor Speaker at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
- White House Tour
- Pentagon Tour
- Conversation with a Civil Rights Activist and Tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Guided Tour of the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
- Conversation with Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, at the Eisenhower Institute
- Mount Vernon Leadership Challenge
- Multiple Theatre Performances at venues including Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company
- And more!
Students live in River Place, an apartment complex located next to Arlington Cemetery and the Potomac River; it is where the LCWS office, classrooms, and the 14 penthouse condominiums are located. Constructed in the mid-1950s, River Place was one of the first major complexes built in the Rosslyn area of Arlington County. The apartment complex consists of four large apartment buildings and included in the complex is an entertainment center with a gym, pool tables, ping pong tables, and a community room. There is also a large swimming pool featuring a walk-down “beach” area and a hot tub. Students have access to all of these amenities while participating in the LCWS. Students live with two to three LCWS students, with the option of having a single bedroom or sharing with another individual.
An additional bonus for students participating in LCWS includes an unlimited metro card. Washington, D.C., has one of the cleanest, most reliable and accessible metro systems in the United States. Most students take the metro every day to their internship; thus, with unlimited swipes on their card, students do not have to worry about running out of money and it increases the likelihood they will explore the city during their stay. When not taking the metro, students will often walk or request an Uber.
Concordia students who have participated in LCWS have built their professional networks, made lifelong friends, and have gained confidence, independence, and clarity with real-world practical experiences. Hear what Cobber alumni have to say about their experiences:
“LCWS served as a wonderful stepping stone from college into a professional career. While in the program, I had the opportunity to intern for Sen. Mike Rounds. After my internship, I accepted a position on Sen. Rounds’ permanent staff in D.C. Through the program, I became friends with many people from all across the country who I plan to keep in contact with the rest of my life. LCWS was a life-changing experience for me and an incredible opportunity I would recommend to every Cobber.”
– Dezmond Ward ’18, Legislative Aide in the Office of Sen. Mike Rounds
Major: Political Science
“My time at LCWS immensely shaped me into the person I am today. Not only did I learn real-life professional skills and experience at my internship, but I also met lifelong friends and explored a new city. LCWS and the network of friends and co-workers I created helped me get an internship at the Pentagon and get my first real job after college. As someone who also took advantage of Concordia’s study abroad programs, I would highly recommend this program to someone who is interested in taking a semester away.”
– Erica Nygaard ’17
Majors: Political Science and Global Studies
There are few better ways to prepare for your future than by spending a semester living, studying, and interning in Washington, D.C.
Learn more at https://www.washingtonsemester.org.
Published July 2019