USA (Virtual): Lillian Chmielewska

Program: Wisconsin in Washington, DC Internship Program, Summer virtual

Lillian’s Majors: Psychology Major, Certificates in Public Policy and Entrepreneurship

What is the moment you are most proud of? 

The moment I am most proud of is when I first received the email with my internship offer. I had been really struggling to find an internship until after the program had started. While it was very discouraging applying to so many places and not getting the job (or in some cases not hearing back at all), I never gave up and continued to network and apply to places. My ability to persevere through the rejection ultimately made me a lot more confident in myself as a professional. This made the moment I was offered the position incredibly rewarding and I was very proud of myself.

Describe your internship and how it has helped advance your career or studies. 

My internship was at a nonprofit advocacy organization and a lot of my responsibilities revolved around going to Congressional hearings and other events to formulate write-ups that would be sent out to members. I also did a great deal of work on databases and policy research. All of these experiences helped advance my ability to write in an eloquent and professional manner. I also gained a great deal of confidence in my own abilities as a young professional through this internship due to the encouraging environment in the office place.

What did you learn about yourself or the world because of your experience?

I learned about the importance of networking for a professional career, especially in DC. Before this program, I had obviously known what networking was and had done a bit of it myself but it was through applying to internships and going through the program that I finally grasped just how important it is. I learned that I am good at making connections and setting up initial meetings and now need to work on maintaining these relationships to build a meaningful network.

How did your identity impact your experience?

I feel that being a woman was the identity of mine that ended up being the most impactful on my experience. When I first started this program and my internship, I was dealing with a case of imposter syndrome. I was feeling as if I did not deserve to be there as much as everyone else and I lacked confidence, which sadly, is a feeling many women get in professional settings. Through the supportive environment in the WiW program and my internship, this feeling slowly faded. My advice to anyone else who struggles with imposter syndrome is to seek out supportive environments (like WiW!) because it is there where you will find a network of people that uplift you!

What is your advice for someone considering this program?

Apply! This program has been one of my favorite experiences at UW-Madison and I have learned so much about myself in such a short amount of time. The connections and personal/professional career development that one gains through this program is truly unmatched. If you are unsure about applying, attend an informational session and reach out with any questions as everyone is so happy to help each other out.

“The connections and personal/professional career development that one gains through this program is truly unmatched.”