Second in a four-part series on the Schaeffer Government Service Fellows Program.
Jamie Kwong spent 10 weeks last summer working for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she developed reports, prepared briefings and provided general support to the chairman, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.).
She relished the experience. But she said one of the best opportunities to come out of the Schaeffer Government Service Fellows Program emerged from a chance meeting with the man for whom the fellowship was named. At a luncheon before she left, Kwong mentioned to USC Professor Leonard Schaeffer that she’d like someday to work at a think tank. He connected her to the Brookings Institution, where Kwong said she made numerous contacts and found a mentor.
“He really facilitated this high-level networking opportunity,” she said. “That was the best thing to come out of the program.”
Kwong is an international relations/progressive master’s degree candidate in public diplomacy at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She plans to graduate in May 2018 and then “I want to go back to D.C.,” she said.
The Schaeffer fellowships offer USC undergraduates the chance to pursue careers in government through high-level internships with elected officials and agencies at the federal, state and local levels. Fellows are paired with a USC alumnus in a related field who serve as a mentor during the summer program. The fellows are provided with a stipend, and travel and housing are paid.
The fellows are placed in internships that encourage exploration into a career in public service. Students, like Kwong, also can secure their own internships to be considered for the program.
The opportunity to live with other USC students who are having similar experiences was helpful, she said, and they shared their expertise.
“They gave me tips to go to lunch briefings because there’s free food, good free food,” she said, laughing.
But above all, Kwong said working with staff members at the House Foreign Affairs Committee was exciting and she learned a great deal.
She also had the chance to be in the nation’s capital during an election year.
“I felt a lot more engaged in the election,” she said, adding that this is the first year she can vote for president. “It was definitely an exciting atmosphere.”
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