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Texas Students Find That Washington Internships Can Open Doors for Jobs in Future

Texas Students Find That Washington Internships Can Open Doors for Jobs in Future

The Dallas Morning News

August 31, 2009

“The economy’s rough, but there’s definitely opportunities out there; it’s about how creative you can get,” Simari said. “This city is built around lowering costs.”

Simari’s frugal outings include trips to the Smithsonian museums (free) and Washington Nationals baseball games ($10 for upper deck in the outfield).

In another cost-cutting measure, Simari, 19, will receive free room and board at Wake Forest as a resident adviser in the fall. Though making ends meet isn’t easy, Simari considers the internship an investment in his future, which he hopes will include graduate school for international diplomacy or law.

“When you look at these grad schools, they’re huge on experience,” Simari said. “The more experience I got, the more viable of a candidate I am.”

Law school aspirations were one reason Tommy Perkins from Dallas applied for an internship with U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat from his hometown.

Perkins, 21, receives a $3,000 stipend for his nine-week stint. He’s tried to conserve money for the end of summer and his senior year at Amherst College but refuses to skimp on all the city has to offer.

“You don’t really have the opportunity to do this again, so you’ve got to live it up when you still can,” Perkins said.

Dallas resident Juan Facio, who wants to be an advertising agency art director, is among the 80 percent of graduates who remain unemployed. In the meantime, he’s lending his graphic design skills to the Department of Defense.

Loose lips sink internships when you do classified work for the Pentagon, but Facio, a 27-year-old University of North Texas graduate, can disclose at least one minor scandal — it involves him. He spent part of his first day lost in the Pentagon before someone spotted the plight of an intern and led him to his office.

“We just look at each other and you know — you can see the fear,” Facio joked.

Facio, whose father works in the security department for The Dallas Morning News, receives a small stipend, which he said barely makes ends meet. Still, he prefers this internship over a permanent position and views the job market’s impenetrability as an advantage for undecided grads.

“Right now with the economy, it’s the perfect time to test the waters and see if there are other opportunities out there other than what I studied,” Facio said.

Like his fellow Dallas native, Perkins knows internships aren’t about money, but about experience — even adventure. He and some of his colleagues ended up somewhere most interns can only dream of.

“We were on the House floor and apparently interns aren’t supposed to be on the House floor,” Perkins said.

The repercussion? “[Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s people kick you out.”