Karissa Jackson ’14 interns with American Federation of Teachers in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Centre News in Internships, News, Study Abroad 05 Feb 2014

Students who participate in the Centre-in-Washington program spend the semester living in the nation’s capitol, attending evening classes at Butler University and working as an intern at one of many local nonprofits, government organizations or think tanks. Karissa Jackson ’14 (pictured above with classmate Hope Wigginton ’15) is in the offices of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a nearly century-old union designed to protect the rights and wages of teachers across the nation.

AFT describes itself as “a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.”

Because Jackson applied for a spot in the program fairly late in the year, many internship deadlines had already passed; however, AFT still had an opening.

“I don’t have any strong feelings about unions,” Jackson says, “but thought it would be a neat, new experience.”

jackson_whitehouseAs an AFT intern, she will help coordinate AFT’s annual compensation survey that covers all 50 states and seeks to measure the compensation of 45 different job titles. The survey is essential for providing AFT with accurate information about current salaries for various positions across the nation.

“I’m excited about being able to have such responsibility on a project that will undoubtedly include valuable research experience,” Jackson says. “This will definitely make me better equipped as I pursue a government job as mandated by my Boren Award.”

Designed to support undergraduate study abroad in areas deemed critical to U.S. national security, the Boren Award supports a federal initiative to develop foreign language and international skills in support of the National Security Education Program.

“Knowing that I’m interested in international relations, my supervisor has also assured me that I can hop over to the international affairs department whenever I have free time,” she adds. “She’s also promised to keep me in the loop on networking opportunities and international meetings.”

Jackson’s favorite experience so far has been attending the Public Services International USA affiliate meeting, an experience her supervisor—knowing Jackson’s interest in international relations—suggested she take part in.

“It was sort of a crash course for me,” she says, “an awesome opportunity to witness international relations in action while also learning about the labor movement of other countries. I met several interesting people and even got to break out some of my Russian!”

As a Boren Scholar at Centre, Jackson has dedicated a significant amount of time studying abroad in Russia, including her junior year at Moscow Humanities University. She also studied jointly in Arizona and Kazan, Russia, with the Arizona State Critical Languages Institute (CLI) in 2011, and again in Kiev during the summer of 2012.

Most of all, Jackson is relishing the opportunity to soak up a wealth of knowledge and experience while in D.C.

“Every day is a learning experience,” she says, “which is something I very much value about this internship.”

Learn more about the Centre-in-Washington Program.

By Mariel Smith

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