By Julie Wedig, MURP ’17
From the moment I stepped onto the sidewalk heading to my first meeting Monday morning over spring break in Washington, I could feel the activity of the city swirling around me. When stoplights turned to green at every intersection, it felt as though the crowd might carry me to the other side of the street if I stopped for even a second. When riding the bus or the subway, the experience was similar. People packed in and swarmed out at every stop along the way.
At the outset, Washington quickly shows any visitor how busy the town and its people really are. I was glad to be here for a week, along with five other UCLA Luskin Global Public Affairs students, to visit a handful of these busy people to discover what a career in international policy and development might look like.
During meetings at places like the World Bank, USAID, Aga Khan Development Network, Save the Children, and Aspen Institute, we heard both about the exciting opportunities and frustrating challenges that arise in the international field. I can now tangibly see how my background in communications and my academic experience at UCLA as a master’s student in urban and regional planning would be useful in international projects. I might advise governments on how to communicate about climate change, coordinate interagency disaster relief efforts, or research resilient agricultural methods to assist farmers across the globe. I’m looking forward to my career after graduation in June, and this trip has opened my eyes to a multitude of pathways that I could take.
By the end of my week in Washington, I felt more in step with the rushing crowds. I grew accustomed to the pace and enjoyed taking in the surrounding energy. I had a deeper understanding of the international work being done from just this one city, and I could picture myself staying awhile and joining the bustle.