By Blaire Edgerton
Feb 17, 2012
As an alumnus of the winter 2010 MIW cohort, Seth Buchsbaum is no stranger to DC. Not only did Seth live through “Snowmaggedon” (an unprecedented DC snowstorm that closed the federal government for a week and left MIWers to soothe the fears of their California counterparts), but he also landed a placement in the prestigious White House Internship Program and still managed to find the time to get to know his entire Michigan cohort. “I loved living in the Center,” said Seth. “The location was amazing and the people I met were incredible.”
Two years later, it is no surprise then that Seth finds himself back in DC; this time, working as a Staff Assistant for the Senate Agriculture Committee. A 2011 graduate in Interdisciplinary Physics and Political and Environmental Policy, Seth says that the Michigan in Washington Program “helped me assimilate quite well. I had a good idea of where I wanted to live in the city, a network of professional contacts, and a group of friends already established when I moved here.”
During his time in MIW, Seth had the opportunity to work in The Energy and Climate Change Office at the White House. Although the days were long (a typical day had him working 8a.m. to 8p.m.), Seth enjoyed his internship. His duties as an intern required a “mix of policy and administrative work. In addition to scheduling, phone answering and mail reading duties, I wrote a number of memos and did a good bit of policy research into topics where I had an interest,” he said. “I also did some more technical modeling work with Excel that I enjoyed quite a bit.”
His work at the White House overlapped with his academic interest, so Seth was able to use research and other aspects of his internship to help write his final MIW research paper. After returning from the program for his senior year, Seth used his MIW research paper as a foundation on which he could build his Honors thesis. Both his research paper and his internship at the White House have greatly benefited him and made him a more competitive candidate for job openings in Washington, DC and elsewhere.
“Every piece of [MIW] experience (especially working at the White House!) counts for a lot on a resume,” said Seth. “It gave me an idea of what working on the federal side of things was like, which will definitely help inform me in future employment decisions.”
Seth advises prospective MIW students to seriously consider the program if they are even remotely interested in working in government, a non-profit, a think tank, or any other DC opportunity after graduation. And don’t be intimidated by the demands of the program – or the administrators for that matter, he cautions.
“I was scared to death of Dr. Howard after the interview!” Seth remembered. “Now, of course, I love her, but she was quite the presence via Skype at the time!”
In fact, Dr. Howard and other connections that he made while in the MIW program have been extremely helpful in moving along Seth’s career.
“Have multiple people look over your resume, especially people who have been in the workforce for a little while. It’s amazing what another pair of eyes can do,” he said. Most importantly, “don’t be afraid to use connections that you have! That’s how this town works, and everyone is incredibly good-natured about helping you out -- especially if there is a Michigan connection.”