From Education to Action: How SJU courses prepared me for Washington.

Jason D’Antonio, Political Science, IR & Economics Minor, Class of 2019

“Coming together is a beginning,” Henry Ford once remarked, “Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” The captain of industry was right, and, in fact, the pillar of pluralism has continued to propel the ideals of democracy and inclusivity.

This summer I had the great opportunity to work at FP1 Strategies, LLC in Washington. As a political consulting firm, FP1 blends grassroots efforts with capital insight and expertise, producing favorable outcomes on a number of issues ranging from political campaigns and public affairs messaging, to advocacy initiatives and policy issues.

At FP1 I was assigned to the public affairs and political teams, pushing me to go beyond my own expectations. Three hours into my first day, a senior associate came over to me and asked me to cross reference over 200 companies with operations in seven states for an upcoming initiative. I simply blinked, but couldn’t respond. Finally something in me uttered out a “Yes, of course,” and I sat down and worked on it with him over the course of the next couple of hours to meet the 4:00pm deadline. In addition to research, I monitored current affairs and announcements for clients, watched and summarized congressional hearings, analyzed executive reports, wrote letters to the editor and opinion editorials, assisted in organizing logistics for campaign production shoots, and provided assistance during live interviews with national networks.

Groups like FP1 are integral to our political process. Washington is just one, relatively small city, and Congress and the broader Administration can only conduct so much outreach to constituents. Therefore, these groups use their relationships to help clients – individuals, companies, trade associations, non-profits, and other NGOs – construct bridges with both government officials and the public, and advocate proposals and provide important information.

The faculty and courses at St. Joe’s were instrumental in preparing me for this experience. In addition to their continual support, they provided the necessary background that not only helped me secure an internship position, but also gave me the opportunity to demonstrate a unique set of skills in foreign and public policy. Just one example was the Trump Administration’s trade war. The Leuven Program at St. Joe’s allowed me to learn more about the European Union’s political structure and agenda, something that was very useful in this summer’s trade conflicts. Dr. Carter’s Modern China and Dr. Gioioso’s Latin American Politicscourse were as equally helpful regarding China and NAFTA, respectively.

If ever presented with the chance (however small or large) to work in Washington, take it. You’ll meet great people with incredibly talented profiles, and will form new relationships on your own, all working on the same thing – our democracy – together.

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