On a warm afternoon around 4, senior Vladimir “Vim” Iglesia quickly answered the phone for an Echo interview. Even with a three-hour time difference and a late day in the office, Iglesia exuded cheerfulness.
Iglesia’s positive attitude is a driving force that gets him through these rough days life in the urban city brings every once in awhile. Rather than dwell on hardships, his outlook is focused on the greatness of the Friends of the Kennedy Center’s internship.
“It was actually a rough day, but it was pretty good,” Iglesia said.
This attitude may be his key to success in Washington D.C. He originally applied for the press position, but with his background in marketing and public relations, he was selected for the volunteer management position. A typical day requires getting into work by 9 a.m. and leaving around 5:30 p.m., or later if Iglesia is staying back to work on more projects.
Washington D.C., the capital of the United States, is a booming city filled with opportunities. Little did Iglesia know the adventure his semester in D.C. would bring.
Iglesia is a senior majoring in communication at California Lutheran University. The CLU Program to Washington D.C., offered through the Study Abroad Office, works in correlation with the Lutheran College Washington Semester to send college students out to study and live in D.C. for one semester. LCWS consists of 13 schools across the country.
According to Programs Specialist Katie Stevenson from the Study Abroad Office, students in the LCWS group live together in apartments and take two classes while abroad on Wednesday nights. Stevenson explained how, although, the semester at D.C. is not overseas, it is still a relatively different academic experience.
“D.C. is totally different from Thousand Oaks life. The East Coast is a totally different world,” Stevenson said.
There are unique hardships that come with living in D.C. Iglesia pointed out the high living expenses and travelling around the city are factors that come along with the semester abroad.
Students are in charge of pursuing their own internships while in the program with guidance from the LCWS group. The group may have networking opportunities, but students are fully responsible for attaining their own position while in the city.
“There are so many international and national organizations out here that are looking for young, courageous go-getting students,” Iglesia said.
A simple Internet search is all it took for Iglesia to find where he wanted to apply. During his search, he looked up D.C. non-profits and the Kennedy Center was one of his findings.
Iglesia’s efforts awarded him with the internship at the non-profit organization Friends of the Kennedy Center. The organization is an affiliate of the Kennedy Center, a performing arts center and memorial in D.C.
According to Iglesia, he has not only improved his writing skills, customer service skills and worked with 500 volunteers for the Kennedy Center, but has also written over 50 tweets for social media and created a marketing plan.
Brooks Boeke, manager of the Friends of Kennedy Center, said the organization’s philosophy for all interns is to give them special projects that fit their skills. Iglesia’s marketing background and passion for volunteering led to the decision made for him to work on a social networking program that aims at a wide age gap from 23 to 95. Interns get to observe the contribution that the volunteers make to the large performing arts center, as well as understand how large organizations work together. Boeke discussed how important it is for interns to have the right balance to be successful in these internship positions.
“It’s been a pleasure to have Vim, the volunteers love him,” Boeke said.
Learning to micromanage a professional workload is part of the overall internship experience. Iglesia’s small projects consist of creating volunteer performance reports, long lasting social media posts, and composing emails. A major project he is working on requires him to fully design a website for NextGenFriends, the organizations area targeting volunteers in the 35 and under age group.
“This is actually one of the most well rounded internships I’ve ever experienced,” Iglesia said.
This fall semester may be a busy one for Iglesia, but it is a rewarding one for his future career goals. He has already taken away multiple skillsets after touching multiple areas in the large organization.
“That’s the most exciting thing about this position,” said Iglesia.
Alongside his work schedule, Iglesia focuses on making the most out of his semester in D.C. Rather than sitting on the couch he tries to find activities that he would not be able to have the chance to do at home.
Washington D.C. is a booming place with opportunities for people in their twenties. All it can take is a semester to have an adventure as big as Iglesia’s.
“I know it’s not as fancy as Peru or Costa Rica, and you’re not gonna have the beach and the island, but you’ll get the work experience that could possibly change your whole life,” Iglesia said.
Published Nov. 6, 2013