Student Success in the Washington D.C. Professional Preparation Program 

Desktop News | September 2023

The Washington D.C. Professional Preparation Program is an initiative focused on empowering students for success in the professional world and providing them with unique opportunities in the nation’s capital. By offering exposure to a diverse range of government and Washington, D.C. specific settings, the program aims to prepare students for internships and jobs that align with their career interests. Throughout the journey, participants engage in briefings with esteemed organizations, meetings with elected officials and informational interviews with industry professionals. Additionally, students get to immerse themselves in the rich history of the city by exploring its historic landmarks and experiencing its cultural and religious aspects. 

Delving into the individual successes of the program participants, it becomes evident how the immersive experience has influenced and shaped their career paths. Securing meaningful positions in their fields of interest and broadening horizons, these students exemplify the program’s effectiveness in fostering professional growth, and their achievements celebrate the impact of the Washington D.C. Professional Preparation Program. 

Austin Smithson Headshot
Austin Smithson

Student Successes:

Austin Smithson, a major in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy Studies, secured a prestigious internship with The White House Internship Program in the Executive Office of the President and Office of Public Engagement, during the fall of 2022. Today, he works as the Executive Assistant to the Office of Governmental Affairs at New York Life Insurance in Washington, D.C. Smithson’s favorite aspect of the program was its immersive nature, providing him with the opportunity to engage with various organizations and individuals, both within and outside the realm of politics. He also cherished the experience of touring the city’s monuments at night. 

Marcella Martinez Headshot
Marcella Martinez

Marcella Martinez, with a dual major in Economics and Political Science, embarked on an impactful journey. Her summer 2022 internship at the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Congresswoman Terri Sewell, followed by being a Local Intern at The White House, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in spring 2023, paved the way for her current role as a Federal Relations Assistant for an insurance company in the nation’s capital. Martinez’s favorite part of the program was the revelation of diverse internship and job opportunities in D.C. that aligned with her interests. She also highlighted the value of networking with Alabama Alumni, who remained instrumental in her professional journey. 

Molly Thomas Headshot
Molly Thomas

Molly Thomas, a student of Environmental Science and French with a minor in Blount, took her internship at The Westervelt Company in spring 2023 as a steppingstone toward her goal of becoming a sustainability consultant. Thomas’s vision is to combine her undergraduate studies with her STEM Path to MBA program to help businesses embrace eco-friendly practices. Her favorite aspect of the program was the opportunity to connect with motivated peers and alumni, witnessing their dreams come to fruition over the past years. 

John Dodd Headshot
John Dodd

John Dodd, majoring in Political Science and Public Relations, set out on a path that led him to a Master of Public Administration graduate program, which will be followed by attending the Cumberland School of Law in 2025. His summer 2022 internship as an Operations Fellow with the House Democratic Caucus laid the foundation for his current roles as a Field Director for Stacey Abrams for Governor and a Mayoral Assistant for the City of Tuscaloosa. Dodd’s favorite part of the program included networking, exposure and the invaluable opportunity to refine his professional career aspirations. 

Andy Hannah, Jr. Headshot
Andy Hannah, Jr.

Andy Hannah, Jr., a Political Science major with a minor in Ethical Group Behavioral Studies, found inspiration in his internship experiences at the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Congresswoman Terri Sewell and the UA Crimson Entrepreneurship Academy. His plan for post-college is to work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Small Business Administration, actively contributing to the advancement of minority and underserved communities. Hannah emphasized the significance of the UA in DC event, which facilitated connections with UA alumni who shared similar backgrounds and experiences. 

These success stories exemplify the lasting impact of the Washington D.C. Program, molding students into accomplished professionals and providing them with the tools, connections and experiences needed to thrive in the competitive world of politics and beyond. 

To learn more about the Washington D.C. Professional Preparation Program, visit