Derek Yang was a rising third-year undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying Foreign Affairs & Economics (with a minor in Chinese), when he completed this internship.
“I learned how to interact with powerful figures in the public policy world, and furthermore how they interact with each other. It was my first ever real exposure to communicating at that level, and was incredibly insightful."
Why did you choose to intern with the Cooper Center, Sorensen Institute?
I chose to study with the Sorensen Institute because of their emphasis on bipartisan cooperation and ethics in public policy, a view I believe should be more emphasized in our current political climate.
What was your favorite part of participating in this internship?
I loved attending meetings with high-level state officials and interacting with them. I hate to brag but Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine called me insightful after a question I asked. Also I loved our program director, Larry Roberts, and my fellow interns, so shout out to all of you!
What did you learn as a result of this internship?
Did you know that lane expansion on the highway is incredibly expensive? A simple 100ft expansion of a merging lane can cost millions of dollars! Knowing that, the $1 trillion price tag on the current federal infrastructure bill becomes much more understandable.
Has your experience helped you in your academic studies, given you skills you can use in a future career or helped you to think differently about your academic and/or career path? If so, how?
It greatly refined my communication skills. As part of my internship, I had to attend meetings with state/federal officials every day of the week. As a result, I learned how to interact with powerful figures in the public policy world, and furthermore how they interact with each other. It was my first ever real exposure to communicating at that level, and was incredibly insightful.
Would you recommend the 22nd Century Scholars Program to future students?
Absolutely. The program gives you incredible opportunities in the public policy sector and I implore anyone interested in the political world to apply!