Washington Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Application
The Interview
Acceptance and Preparation

THE APPLICATION

My GPA is slightly lower than 9.0, can I still apply? Students with less than a 9.0 cumulative GPA are advised to strengthen their academic record before applying.

What are my chances of being accepted to the program as a second-semester sophomore? While junior year is the preferred time to participate, we understand that other commitments may require that you intern during your sophomore year. If recent trends continue, we receive more applications for interning in Washington during fall than spring semester which is good news for strong sophomore applicants looking into a spring semester internship in DC. Second semester sophomores who demonstrate a solid background in previous government courses, maturity, initiative, and ability to thrive in the rigorous program environment will make strong candidates.

How many students are accepted into the Washington Program? Up to 18 students are accepted each semester and applications are reviewed on their individual merits.

I wasn't accepted the semester I applied, do I have a chance if I apply for the following semester? Yes! You should meet with members of the selection committee to discuss how to strengthen your application. Occasionally, the selection committee believes that a student is applying too early in his or her academic career and the applicant is advised to reapply. Student who have done so in the past have fared very well.

Can I be an "undeclared" or an "undecided" major at application? You must declare a major before permission to study off-campus will be granted.

Does my resume really need to be reviewed by the CMC Career Services Office? Yes!!! Your resume is the most important piece when applying to an internship in DC A badly prepared resume is the surest way to show that you are not ready to work in DC, no matter what experience you may already have.

I am currently enrolled in "Introduction to American Politics", may I still apply? It is required that you complete this course before application. You need to have a background in government/politics to be prepared to spend a semester working as an intern in Washington. Therefore, we suggest you defer applying for one semester and in addition, we strongly recommend that you enroll in a course on Congress or other advanced government course.

There was no one at the office at 5:01 pm on deadline day, so I slipped my application under the door, did you get it? More than likely yes, but you just showed us that you have trouble meeting deadlines and we will take this into consideration when we review your application.


THE INTERVIEW

When will I receive notification of my interview time? You will receive an email a couple of days after the deadline date. The interviews are based on the scheduling form from the application, so fill it out carefully. Please acknowledge that you have received your appointment time for the interview.

Where will interviews be held? Come to the Office of Off-Campus Study, Heggblade Center a few minutes early. You will be directed to the interview panel when they are available.

Who will be on the interview panel? The panel will include one or two faculty members from the Government Department and the Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study. Whenever possible, an alumnus/a of the program will also participate as a student interviewer.

How should I dress for interviews? The interview panel treats the interview as a job interview, so you should dress appropriately. Men should wear a suit or dress slacks and a dress shirt with a tie. Women should wear a suit, slacks or skirt (knee-length or longer) and a blouse or sweater (no cleavage). Make sure your clothing is cleaned and ironed.

Why is the interview so formal and stressful? For many students, this interview is the first formal job interview and we are pleased to afford our applicants some practice and some feedback before the "real" phone interviews take place. A great deal of work in Washington consists of oral briefings and other face to face encounters, and the interview is a means for us to determine whether you are ready to stand on your own two feet in a stressful fast-paced work environment.


ACCEPTANCE AND PREPARATION

I was accepted, but am not sure I really want to go to DC. Should I accept the offer anyways? If you are having doubts, feel free to contact the Director of Off-Campus Study or a government professor to discuss your options and your concerns. Accepting our offer is tantamount to agreeing to put in 100% effort into your job and housing search, and as equally important, to invest time and energy into getting to know all program participants as well as staying in touch with Professor Spalding. Students who withdraw at a later date will be subject to a $350 withdrawal fee. Remember your actions often affect others on the program, so please be considerate.

What if I have class on one of the nights that a required meeting is held? Please notify the Off-Campus Study office as soon as possible; sometimes we are able to make alternate arrangements. If at the last minute, one of your professors schedules a special class meeting, a review session, or a special mid-term, it is your responsibility to communicate to the Office of Off-Campus Study that you will be unable to attend.

Oops! I forgot to go to a required meeting. What do I do? You need to make an appointment with the Director of Off-Campus Study in person.

Why wasn't a reminder sent to us? In Washington, supervisors and coworkers will not send you reminders about the work you must do. They will just expect you to remember and lose respect for you if you do not. Interns in training should keep a calendar as this habit will serve you well in DC. We have no intentions of sending you reminders.

Can't my acceptance forms or copies of my internship letters be a few days late? Your employer in DC will expect you to meet deadlines, and we require nothing less. If you can't meet a deadline due to extenuating circumstances, we need to know about it.

Can I attend the Washington Program and go abroad? Yes, every semester a group of Washington interns opt to study abroad for one semester before returning to CMC. Pomona, HMC, Pitzer and Scripps students must contact the office of Study Abroad, External Studies or Off-Campus Study on their home campus. You will be asked to select a destination and complete the study abroad application before leaving campus, so it is a good idea to start early. Study abroad applicants will be invited to a mandatory study abroad pre-departure meeting in mid-November and in mid-April.

After you are accepted to study abroad by the Off-Campus Study Committee, you will receive additional required forms that you need to complete to receive final approval to study abroad. Two of these forms are easier to complete before you arrive in D.C.: Coursework Approval Form (it is easier to get signatures while on campus) and the Health Report (do at Health Services before leaving campus or with your family doctor before going to DC). Both of these forms are available in the participants section of the Study Abroad website.

Can I study abroad before going to DC? Students may petition for permission to study abroad before attending the Washington Program. Students must have compelling reasons for doing so, as applying for a job in DC from abroad and selecting housing with peers will be much more cumbersome. For example, internet access in some locations is billed at an hourly rate and you could be asked for a phone interview during a program fieldtrip or vacation. Additionally, applicants would not have ready access to the support network available on campus. Such petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How does the billing work for the semester I study in Washington? Refer to our Finance section.

I am on financial aid. How does this work? Visit the finances webpage.

I am getting one of the student awards, when will I receive it? The stipend check for your award will be mailed to the Washington Program office and it is given to you by the director during Orientation.