Michigan in Washington Student of the Week: Kaitlen Sawyer

Hometown: Tecumseh, Michigan

Major: International Studies – Security, Norms and Cooperation

Minor: Translation Studies, Chinese

Internship placement: Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs, Mexico and Central America Team


Why did you decide to do Michigan in Washington? 

I applied to participate in Michigan in Washington because I wanted the chance to work in D.C. and experience life in the city while I was still a student. I was also excited by the opportunity to network and have access to all the program’s amazing staff and alumni. As an international studies major minoring in a critical language, I knew that D.C. was full of career opportunities for someone like me. In addition, since I’m a senior, I wanted to explore the city as a potential future home. As a little kid, I always wanted to be a special agent for the FBI, so I guess a little bit of that also stuck with me over the years. I was so excited when I got an internship at the Department of Justice!

What do you do during a typical day at your internship? 

The Office of International Affairs handles extradition cases and evidence exchange between the U.S. and other countries. The team that I’m a part of works specifically on cases involving Mexico and Central American nations. What makes my internship amazing is that I get to work on extradition cases alongside the attorneys and the international affairs specialists (IASs). I draft legal documents like transmittal letters and certification pages in English and Spanish, I review the Spanish Translations that we get back from contractors, and I even get to help assemble finished packages and send them off to foreign embassies! Being so immersed in these cases, I’ve gotten to understand the inner workings of the extradition process and how it varies from country to country based on the conditions of our relationship and the treaties involved; it’s incredible. A group of us, interns, attorneys and IASs, regularly eat lunch together, and our Assistant Director even makes time to take us interns out for coffee!

Which elective are you taking and how does this class apply to your time in D.C. (If not applicable, what about this class interests you)? 

I’m taking American Political Journalism with Carlos Lozada, an editor at the Washington Post.

While the class isn’t directly related to my career aspirations or major, I was interested in learning more about how news is created and how journalist do their work in a political environment like Washington D.C. Also, as a bonus, we all get to meet Bob Woodward!

What do you like to do in D.C. during your free time? 

There’s so much to do in the city, and UCDC is a great central location. I love walking outside whenever I can, and the National Mall is only about a mile and a half away. I really like going running down around the Mall and the monuments too, especially in the nice fall weather. The architecture of the buildings is incredible and there’s so much history ingrained in the capital. If I am not admiring the architecture, I like exploring the museums. There are so many and most of them are free.

What’s something on your D.C. bucket list and what is something that you have crossed off of your D.C. bucket list? 

Touring the FBI building is a major stop on my bucket list, and I’m almost ready to check it off. I get to go on a special tour this month because of my internship at the DOJ. As for something I’ve already crossed off, I toured the African American History Museum about a month ago and it was amazing!

What advice would you give to a student interested in Michigan in Washington? 

Just do it! Honestly, no matter your major, internship or background, there’s something really valuable to be gained from the MIW experience. Besides a valuable internship experience, you get a chance to meet Michigan alumni across all different fields and careers who want to help you. You also get to live in the United States capital for an entire semester with all the resources of the University to support you.