Global Economics & Business
December 2, 2019 | This is the last time I am saying: Hello everyone, welcome back to my blog!
I cannot believe the semester at the American University Washington Semester Program is almost over already.
I still remember stepping out of the plane in Washington, D.C., getting to American University, totally unclear what would happen this semester. However, it is not over, yet. So first of all, let me explain how the last few weeks passed by.
The highlight of my internship finally took place: the National Academy of Public Administration held its annual Fall Meeting! The event was held at the Hyatt Hotel in Crystal City from November 8 until November 9. More than 200 Fellows came together to talk about the upcoming challenges in public administration and how to resolve them. I have class Thursdays, but I was able to attend the meeting on Friday. The atmosphere was brilliant! The people who attended were really interested during the meetings. Speakers from the private consulting sector like KPMG or McKinsey were invited, and governmental agencies like the Department of Treasury talked about their approaches towards certain challenges. One challenge, for example, is a projected loss in jobs due to emerging Artificial Intelligence. Research conducted by McKinsey revealed that 39 million jobs in certain U.S. sectors, such as transportation or production, will be displaced by 2030. On the one hand, people lacking college degrees are higher impacted than highly educated people. Therefore, getting a significant degree is even more important today than in earlier days.
On the other hand, the impact on job displacement is demographically dependent. Employees who are not capable of adapting to new technologies will be higher threatened than others. However, the study also projects a gradual job growth in both the health and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) sector. How can these jobs be filled in the future? One possibility shown by McKinsey is to retrain people from distinguishing jobs to perform work in the needed business environment. The big question, which was also posed by certain Fellows who attended the meeting, was how the retraining can be conducted. To be honest, the projected growth in jobs is foremost in areas that require highly qualified workers. Therefore, the American government needs to work in close cooperation with the private sector to make retraining happen.
All in all, the Fall Meeting was a great opportunity to learn how close governmental agencies work together with the private sector in order to achieve corporate objectives. Furthermore, I got the opportunity to network with many businesswomen and businessmen, which might help me for my future career.
During class, we had the chance to visit a number of interesting guest speakers. Professor Sosland took us to the Federal Reserve Bank with the Economic Policy class. Reading in the news about the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) reducing interest rates and then being in the room where the negotiations took place just one week earlier was an awesome feeling! Our guest speaker was the former Federal Reserve Board Secretary who talked with us about the U.S. Federal Reserve system. He told us stories from his professional experiences, which made the lecture very interesting! His explanations showed that he loved his profession, even though he was retired now. My goal is it to find a job one day I also love to talk about with other people and to be able look forward to every day in the office.
In preparation for our SWOT analysis in the Global Entrepreneurship and Business class, which is due by the beginning of December, we visited the four companies: 3M, Boeing, Airbus, and UPS. Each company needs to be analyzed regarding both inside capabilities like strengths and weaknesses and its outer environment regarding opportunities and threats. My favorite visit was the one to Airbus! While the employees did not prepare any presentation beforehand, we were able to ask many questions they were fully open to answering. Even when it came to critical questions, they were happy to deal with them. Afterwards, we went to the Airbus innovation exhibition. There, the latest Airbus projects among the commercial and the air and space department are shown to the public. However, my personal highlight was the flight simulator! This was my first time trying one out. It was lots of fun! Luckily, it was not a real plane. Otherwise I might not be alive anymore, as I crashed the plane during landing #oops. Literally, it is way more difficult than it looks!
At the site visit at 3M, I was surprised how many products the company has to offer. They operate in office support, the automobile sector, and the renewable energies sector, among other sectors. In the entrance area, they had a special wall that seemed like an ordinary cherry blossoms picture at first glance. However, when you took a picture of the wall using flash, the flowers shine in a way that can be solely seen on the picture. It looks awesome! Our host explained to us that they achieve the effect through a special foil they produce for road markings as well.
Finally, all four companies had one major thing in common: in the way they talked to us students, we could easily realize that these people absolutely love both their jobs and the enterprise they are working for! One day, I would also like to give such an attitude towards other people.
As the last weeks are approaching, I have been visiting many sites during the last couple of weeks, as well. For example, I visited Mount Vernon. George Washington’s former mansion and the park area are adorable. Especially during fall, as the leaves are falling, there is a special atmosphere. Moreover, I went to two ice hockey games! At home, I was not a huge ice hockey fan. Nevertheless, when I went to my first ice hockey game, which was Washington Capitals against the Calgary Flames, I learnt to love the sport! More than 20,000 Capitals fans were cheering for their team. It was also the first ice hockey game after the Washington Nationals baseball team won the World Series. Therefore, the whole baseball team was in the Capital One Arena presenting their trophy. Go Nats! The atmosphere was tremendous. It felt like a very special game for both the players and the audience. Not to mention that the Capitals beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. Seems like D.C. is the city of the winners! After that game, I decided to go to another ice hockey game, which just took place last weekend.
Furthermore, I spent two days visiting Philadelphia with three of my friends. The city is beautiful. To me, it seems like a solid mix between Washington, D.C., and New York City. Of course, we visited the Independence Hall. Being at the exact place where U.S. history as it is known today has started by signing both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution was a great experience.
Reflecting on my semester abroad spent at the American University, it was one of the best decisions I made in my educational life, so far. I feel very fortunate that I was able to spend one semester in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Washington, D.C.
Not only was I able to get to know businesspeople from different areas, but more importantly, I made friendships that I think will last for a life time. Luckily, most of the close friends I made in D.C. live in Germany, too. Therefore, we will get the chance to meet after the semester on an occasional basis. During the last few weeks in the U.S., I will get to spend traditional Thanksgiving celebrations at my American family’s home in Florida. I am really excited about that! Afterwards, I will finish the semester writing three finals before I say: I’m coming home for Christmas! Thank you for reading my blog on a frequent basis. I would not have wanted to miss the time spent in the Washington Semester Program’s Global Economics and Business concentration!
Global Economics & Business
November 11, 2019 | Hello everyone, this is Katrin again!
I come back to you with some great news: Midterm season is over! The last three weeks were all about writing papers in both my Economic Policy and Global Entrepreneurship & Business classes. We were given three essay questions for both subjects and had one week to prepare them at home. When the midterm days approached, we had to submit one, which was selected randomly by our professor. Such an exam was quite new for me as in Germany, where you have exams you need to study for and take in class. Preparation took lots of time for me. While I am not quite used to writing many papers, I prepared them in advance, spending many days in the library.
After we turned on our midterms in the morning, we were able to enjoy a chilly afternoon in the city. After the Entrepreneurship midterm, a friend and I were on a mission: we wanted to find her the perfect dress for the upcoming evening at the Ivory Coast embassy event. It turned out that this was not as easy as we thought. However, after some intense shopping, she finally found a really nice dress on accident! Therefore, we were looking forward to the evening!
Finally, Saturday approached, and the time had come. We girls got decked out in dresses, and the boys suited up. The night was great! We got the opportunity to not only taste African wine and food like typical rice dishes - I absolutely loved the fried plantains - but also to view traditional clothing and arts, as well. I really liked the colorful paintings. We were also shown traditional dances from the Ivory Coast. Moreover, we were even able to dance together. I would have never imagined myself participating in group dancing at any country’s embassy before I arrived in Washington, D.C.
Last weekend was great, too. I finally started travelling: I went to New York City! To get the most out of the weekend, I took an early train on Friday morning. It only took me three hours to get there, super easy! On Friday, I started the trip having lunch at the Chelsea Market. I indulged in an awesome crab sandwich, yummy! The market was also fully decorated in Halloween style. Afterwards, I went to the Brooklyn Bridge. I found myself running into crowds of tourists! However, as I went further from Manhattan to Brooklyn you could see there were not that many people wanting to take the whole trip over the Hudson River. In the evening, I had dinner at a small Italian restaurant in Little Italy. I had forgotten how good real fresh pasta tastes.
On Saturday, my day started early. I went up the Empire State Building. As I have been to NYC a couple of times before, that was the last skyscraper besides the One World Trade tower and the Rockefeller Center I wanted to visit. Therefore, I could complete one of my items on my travel bucket list. The view from the top was stunning! I also visited Pier59, a place by the Hudson River. I looked over to New Jersey and the other suburban areas, realizing how big the city was. I finished my day at a rooftop bar facing the Empire State Building. On Sunday, I took the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands. On the way there, I enjoyed the view of New York’s skyline. Afterwards, it was already time to say goodbye and return to D.C.
All in all, I had a great time there! The weather did not feel like fall, rather like spring time as it was very warm and sunny. I liked diving into New York City’s rushing metropolitan life for one weekend. However, I now enjoy Washington, D.C., as a calmer but still, vibrant and green city even more!
The week afterwards was all about supporting the Nationals in their World Series games! My friends and I went to one watch party the Nationals Ballpark to watch them play against the Houston Astros. The atmosphere was awesome. We were cheering together with the people around us. They not only won this game. They won the whole 2019 World Series for the first time! I feel very lucky being in the city during a time when such a special event happens!
November is going to be quite busy at my training site. The National Academy of Public Administration holds its annual fall meeting from November 6 to November 8. I am absolutely looking forward to this event as I will be able to meet with more than 200 Fellows from around the country! Fellows are external advisers, nominated from the National Academy of Public Administration, working in different professional areas. They support the Academy in giving their expert knowledge to projects advising the Federal government in different issues. I hope I will get the chance to network with some of them.
Stay tuned, as this is going to be the last whole month of my semester in D.C. Time is running way too fast, but more great events are approaching!
Global Economics & Business
October 21, 2019 | Hello everyone, this is Katrin again!
Over the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to visit two institutions that are founded to support start-ups. In business wording, you call them “incubators”. The first one was the Halcyon Incubator. It mainly focuses on social entrepreneurs who strive to make the world a better place. I got to meet six different start-up CEOs. Their work was very interesting! They are not only getting the opportunity to work and live at a 30,000-foot mansion in beautiful Georgetown (which is indeed great!) but they are also able to network with other ambitious entrepreneurs. Members get together with mentors, advisors, and investors. It gives rising CEOs the great chance to find themselves in one of the most nourishing environments when it comes to turning an idea into a running business.
The second incubator we visited during class was 1776. I met Khuram Zaman, the CEO of Fifth Tribe. His start-up focuses on digital marketing. What inspired me was his ambitiousness about growing his own tech company. While he explained the business model, he also pointed out the tough life of an entrepreneur. He made clear that starting Fifth Tribe was a lot about being ready to roll up his sleeves and be all in. For example, he taught himself how to program a whole software from home! Doing so, he even won a competition among professional tech geniuses. He also told us about certain drawbacks he dealt with in the beginning and still does. I have the feeling that on the outside, being an entrepreneur sounds really cool and edgy. However, it is important to see that there are downsides, too. You need to have grit, keep moving forward, and learn from past failures to make it better in the future.
Classes are quite busy right now as midterms are coming up the next weeks. I find myself going to the library quite often at the moment. Though, it is very convenient just to walk there from Leonard Hall within five minutes! Honestly, managing both classes and the training at the same time are quite challenging. However, studying in D.C. is lots of fun, and I get to meet many people. I love to push myself in the right direction!
My goal for the next weeks is to finally visit one of the Smithsonian museums. It is quite strange that I find myself in the city for almost two months now but am missing out on that. I was always waiting for that one rainy fall day you only want to stay in somewhere. Since summer 2019 was extended through October, this has not happened yet! However, I changed my strategy now and wrote a to-do list of places to visit ASAP:
- Air and Space Museum
- African American Museum
- The Botanical Garden
- The Spy Museum
- The National Museum of History
- Portrait Gallery
- National Zoo
You see, there is a lot remaining to put checkmarks on during the second half of the semester. I will keep you posted!
Global Economics & Business
October 7, 2019 | Hello everyone! The past weeks went by really fast. I am happy to update you all how my DC life is going so far.
Both my training position and classes have gotten underway now, so no more vacation tourist life in the capital!
I have definitely gotten settled at my training position. I am working closely with my supervisor in the accounting department at the National Academy of Public Administration. As the Academy’s fiscal year is about to end next month, we have a lot to report to the CFO. It is mostly about checking numbers, verification, and documentation. As I am a numbers person, I really like my position. Moreover, I have the feeling that I am a really good help to my supervisor. That makes me proud of the work I am conducting for her.
There were also multiple panel meetings during the last weeks at the Academy. One was about IT Modernization. That was really interesting! Specialists from the private consulting sector and governmental associates came together to discuss the ongoing changes in technology in the workplace. Different opinions and perspectives were shown. One participant pointed out the importance of new staff recruitment opportunities, such as tech competitions. These events are seen as chance to “win” computer science experts to work at your organization.
That was a great opportunity for me to network with other people. They were also interested in the work I am doing at the Academy and my past experiences, as well. The panel showed me that when it comes to the so-called “fourth industrial revolution”, the federal government and the private sector need to work together in order to cope with technical challenges, such as AI in the workplace.
Regarding classes, workload is quite demanding. I already submitted a research paper in my Economic Policy class. It was about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. I analyzed whether it was a favorable bilateral trade agreement for both the US and the EU. As it was my first ever research paper for university, that was challenging. However, the American University Library’s Writing Center was a great help!
While class and training happen during weekdays, my friends and I are able to get the most out of sightseeing during the weekends! We visited the Lincoln Memorial during sunset, and I admit this was absolutely one of the best evenings in DC so far! Seeing the sun setting right behind the Lincoln Memorial looking over the Potomac River was awesome! Furthermore, we spent another day in Georgetown. Of course, we did not miss out on getting in line to try one of the super famous Georgetown Cupcakes. In the evening, we grabbed some pizza and watched the sunset at the waterfront. It was beautiful. You see, sunset is my favorite color!
Reflecting on the past weeks, I feel like I have fully arrived in Washington, DC. I am still overwhelmed by the city’s beauty and all the opportunities that are provided here. Stay tuned on my next update, as many fall events, such as an evening at the Embassy of Cote d’Ivoire are approaching!
Global Economics & Business
September 23, 2019 | Hello everyone, my name is Katrin! I am studying for one semester far away from home, taking part in the Washington Semester Program (WSP) at American University. At my home school, the University of Augsburg in Germany, I am enrolled in the Business Administration Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Finance and Information. In DC, I chose the Global Economics and Business concentration. Since I was ten years old I have dreamt of doing a semester abroad in the United States of America and now, here I am.
From the moment I heard about the Washington Semester Program, I wanted to take part in it. The connection between traditional learning in classes and expanding my practical skills at a selected academic training site thrilled me. Since Washington, DC, is one of the most important cities, if not the most important city, worldwide where politics takes place, I am able to expand my political as well as business knowledge during the semester.
No doubt, DC is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to worldwide. Living the typical tourist life in DC during the WSP’s first week before classes started, we had the chance to explore many sights. These included the National Mall, Georgetown, and Dupont Circle. And what should not be missed is seeing the Washington Nationals baseball team playing in the Nationals Park facing the Washington Monument!
American student life so far is very different from German university life. First of all, housing is one major point. It is the first time for me to live on campus, which is very convenient. You get to your classes within minutes without spending too much time on the bus. As the majority of WSP students stay in the AU residence halls, we are able to see each other on a regular basis, so nobody feels alone.
Second of all, classes are way smaller. Studying in courses of around 20 students gives me the great opportunity not only to listen to the professor but also to my classmates. We are encouraged to take part in class in a proactive way. Therefore, the whole learning process is very interactive.
From the first day on, DC is our classroom. Professor Sosland gave us the chance to get to know the city from the eyes of not only a person visiting but also as someone who engages in economics. We already discussed the history of US economic and foreign affairs during a trip to the DC monuments such as the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Old Post Office Tower. A class site visit to the Newseum showed us the crucial connection between professional business life with journalism and communication.
I am a trainee at the National Academy of Public Administration this semester. It is a brilliant way to connect my theoretical and practical knowledge in accounting and finance with politics in Washington, DC. The organization provides advice to government leaders in administrative topics, such as intergovernmental evaluation, financial management, strategic planning, or human capital.
In the upcoming three months, I am going to work with the accounting team as well as assist in a research project for the United States government in foreign affairs. During my experiential learning experience, I am thrilled that I will get the opportunity to expand my professional accounting knowledge as well as to learn how the US government resolves current issues with the help of a government contractor.
Since my arrival in Washington, DC, four weeks ago, I have gotten to know many different people at NAPA, during class, and through WSP. Everyone welcomed me in a warm and kind way. I made very good friends already.
DC as a city itself is vibrant and fast-paced, and there are so many great things to do. I am sure I will have a great time during the Washington Semester Program. Stay tuned during the upcoming months for more updates!