Andrew Pongratz BA ‘26 (Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) and Economics) was an Economics Student Trainee at United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington, DC.
What was the process for getting this internship, job, or summer experience?
Originally, I had no intention of applying for a summer internship, but I was encouraged to apply for TFAS by one of my professors (Dr. Mary Rigdon, in the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science). I had applied to TFAS and I got accepted with a scholarship for tuition and housing costs. As part of the TFAS program, participants work with program staff to get matched to an internship site that shares their interests. I wanted to work in a federal agency in some sort of legal/law capacity, and I worked with the program to reach out to potential agencies. I ultimately chose CPSC since it was a paid opportunity and I would get to work with many different types of legal professionals. TFAS also provides plenty of networking dinners, site briefings, professional development seminars, and other activities for students to engage with during their time in DC.
What was a typical day like?
Each day was a bit different, depending on if I needed to go into the office or work from home. Most weeks I would go into the office two to three days a week, with my other days being at home or on the move. Some weeks I was visiting the Pentagon, the White House, the State Department, the Organization of American States, among other sites. When I was in the office, I was advising my boss, a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on legal issues and providing research and clerical support as needed.
What was your favorite part of the experience?
I really enjoyed living in and exploring the DC area. I got to go to many art museums and see musicals. The food scene was very robust and I was also able to travel to other cities (New York and Boston) while I was there.
What did you learn?
I learned how to network within the public policy and government relations scene. DC is a small town when it comes to who you know, and I felt that I was able to effectively connect with others, thus helping me to clarify and round out my future career goals and aspirations.
What advice do you have for other students looking for a similar experience, or advice for future students to be successful?
I would recommend that students apply to TFAS. TFAS can find opportunities for individuals in public policy, economics, business, journalism, along with a wide variety of other majors/interests. It is an excellent opportunity for students at all levels (first-year through senior year). I found it very comfortable and manageable for the summer between by freshman and sophomore years.