Thanks For The Memories

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Well this is it—my final blog entry before my internship comes to a close and I move on to new challenges. As I look back on my summer, I have some tips to share with next year’s Dallas Martin Fund for Education (DME) intern as they get ready to begin what will truly be an incredible experience:

  1. Take notes! It may seem obvious but the most helpful thing I found to do while tagging along to all of these meetings was to write down as many notes as I could. This allowed me to easily remember the places, people, and associations I encountered and remember any questions I wanted to ask the policy team later.
  2. Don’t wear your dress clothes in. When you’re walking to work on your first day and look around to notice that almost everyone else seems to be in shorts and casual shoes while you’re miserably hot in your dress clothes you’ll remember these words. Take a tip I learned on my many walks in – change once you get to the office in the a.c.!
  3. Ask questions. Every single staff member at a NASFAA is always willing to answer any question you ask. It’s ok not to know everything, that’s why you’re an intern: you’re here to learn. Don’t be nervous to ask something that seems simple and everyone else appears to already get; it’s the only way to further your knowledge base.
  4. Soak up this wonderful city as much as possible. Many of the NASFAA members and staff know I purchased a book prior to my arrival in D.C. called 100 Free Things to Do in D.C., and I am proud to say that by the time I return to Connecticut next week I will have accomplished around 80. There are so many wonderful (and free!) things to do in the city, even if you’ve been here before--so get out and enjoy what the city has to offer after work or on the weekends. 

As I complete my time with NASFAA I cannot say thank you, thank you, THANK YOU enough to the NASFAA members, the Dallas Martin Fund for Education supporters, and the NASFAA staff for giving me this opportunity.

To the NASFAA Members: Having worked in an aid office this past year, I’ve gotten a small insight into what it’s like to be in the direct line of fire. Parents, students, fellow administrators, faculty, and more are all calling or e-mailing asking why you’re doing this or why you can’t do that. The work you all do is truly amazing; the compassion that I see from every aid administrator I’ve ever interacted with is touching. I don’t think anyone can fully express their gratitude to you all for the impact you make on students and your campus. Absolutely everything NASFAA does is for the support of you and your offices. The advocacy, task forces, committees, training, assistance, and more is based on your needs and how to help you best serve your students. 

To the Dallas Martin Endowment Supporters: I’m so glad I was able to meet several of the advisory committee members during the 2013 NASFAA conference. Your commitment to cultivating future financial aid policy advocates is outstanding. It has been such a wonderful opportunity to learn about financial aid advocacy and policy, and I know that it has fueled the passion within me and will continue to do so in the future. This internship has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I don’t know that I could ever put into words how honored I feel that I was chosen for it.

To the NASFAA Staff: Thank you all for answering my questions daily (sometimes even hourly), for giving me great tips on the city, and for letting me tag along to various meetings – you have all been incredible! Thank you to the policy team for taking me under your wings, guiding me along this journey, and helping me network with so many associations and individuals vital to higher education policy. I would also like to specifically thank my supervisor, Megan McClean. You are an amazing mentor and I feel so lucky to have been given this time with a great professional such as yourself.

I have learned so much this summer about myself both personally and professionally, and I know I have been changed forever. Overall, this summer has had an amazing impact on my professional goals for the future. I have seen how associations and advocacy groups can have a powerful and positive influence in policy and hope to find myself working within one similar to NASFAA upon completing my master’s next year. 

I will close this chapter of my life and return to Connecticut to complete the last year of my master’s program while resuming my work as a graduate assistant in the office of financial aid at Central Connecticut State University and interning with the president of Manchester Community College. I will take back a multitude of new skills and knowledge to my studies and career and can’t wait to see how they shape my future.

I know that leaving NASFAA and no longer living in D.C. is going to be hard, but as I’ve told many of my co-workers: I’m not considering it the end of anything, I’m considering it the kick-off to completing my master’s and countdown until I can come back to D.C. and stay for good! 

Charlotte

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