State Department intern finds career aspirations through Washington Semester Program

Chris Beckman '14

Chris Beckman '14

Roanoke College junior Chris Beckman came to Washington for a semester to intern at the State Department as a participant in Roanoke's Washington Semester Program. By the end of his time in the nation's capital, he was touring area schools, looking for a graduate program.

Beckman has some time to decide where his graduate studies will take him, but he took advantage of free afternoons to tour universities in Washington and learn about graduate programs in international peace and conflict studies.

Beckman's internship with the State Department's Office of Civil Rights was a great fit for someone whose dream is to work as a mediator for an ambassador or other State Department officials. "It's a smaller office," he said. "Everyone has been very helpful."

While in Washington, Beckman also had some amazing opportunities to make connections at the State Department. When he started, Hillary Clinton was leaving her post as Secretary of State, and the vote to confirm Sen. John Kerry to the position was taking place. During his first weeks as an intern, Beckman attended receptions for Clinton and Kerry.

Beckman took advantage of free time when it came, but said the Washington Semester Program keeps students very busy. Its requirements that students take classes, complete service work, and attend events and tours around the city make for a busy few months. Beckman said he particularly enjoyed the community service requirement, saying "I want to do more volunteer work in the future because of it."

Grateful for his time in Washington, Beckman said others who may be considering the program should most certainly apply.

"If you come here with good intentions, if you put yourself in a position to change, you'll definitely better understand yourself," he said with a smile and an air of youthful wisdom.

"And you might surprise yourself."

- Traci Crockett '01