“My senior year approached far too quickly,” said Jennifer Huffman, ’10, a dual international studies and leadership studies major. “The majority of my senior year was consumed by writing my senior thesis and taking a capstone course, so I decided to get an internship after graduation to gain another meaningful experience while I continued my job search.”

Huffman utilized Career Development Center services during her sophomore year to secure an internship in Washington, D.C. with Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. She obtained the position through the University of Richmond’s D.C. Initiative program (DCI), which connects eligible students with summer internship opportunities offered by alumni and friends of the University.

While searching for an internship during her senior year, Huffman decided to try the DCI program again.

“I found an opportunity to work in the development office at the United Service Organizations (USO) at the headquarters in Arlington, Va.,” said Huffman, whose older brother is in the Navy. “I knew I had the chance to not only gain experience but also contribute to a personally meaningful cause.”

Even before beginning her internship with the USO, which provides morale-boosting programs and services to enhance the quality of life for military personnel and their families around the world, Huffman received a warm welcome from Braxton Bragg, ’06, who works in USO’s financial department.

“Our time at Richmond never overlapped, but we instantly had that Spider connection,” Huffman said. “Braxton reaching out to me epitomized the supportive and friendly environment at the USO. I’m so thankful to him for connecting Richmond with the USO and opening up internship opportunities with such a great organization.”

Spending her summer working in USO’s major gifts and planned giving division, Huffman gained experience researching and writing and learned a lot about opportunities working in development and fundraising.

Those skills came in handy when a full-time position became available in USO’s corporate alliances office. By building good relationships with her supervisors and taking the initiative to tackle new projects and responsibilities during her internship, Huffman was able to land the full-time position with the organization.

“Always make sure you do your best work,” she said. “No matter what, you want to set yourself up for whatever comes next, whether that’s the possibility of a job or simply ensuring your supervisors will speak highly of you for your next opportunity.”

Huffman also recommends keeping an open mind when beginning the job search.

“I never really knew much about development positions before my internship,” she said “Students shouldn’t confine their job searches based solely on their majors. My internships taught me that you can take your major in any direction. If you’re interested in a position, pursue it wholeheartedly.”

Even though Huffman is busy adjusting to her new life as a working professional in Washington, D.C., she’s been able to stay connected with her alma mater.

“There’s a great alumni network here,” she said. “Just last week, I went on a boat cruise on the Potomac and met so many other young Richmond alumni. It’s great to instantly have that connection with fellow Spiders. I am so thankful for the DCI program, and I hope that someday I can give back and support current students.”