Hi! My name is Jordan Johnson and I was an intern with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Public Policy office in Washington DC for the fall 2011 semester. I ventured to DC from the beautiful Pacific Northwest as part of the Washington Semester Program at American University.
After interning both with a congressman and a small non-profit, I was looking for something with a public policy focus. I was also looking for something where I felt necessary and useful. I found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at the internship bazaar put on by the Washington Semester. I was drawn to it because of my own experiences of my brother’s attempted suicide. After talking with the staff, AFSP seemed to be just the right fit.
From day one, I knew I would love my experience. The staff is phenomenal and truly cares about the success of every intern. Although there were three other interns, I never felt any less important than the next. Given that we were all designated different assignments, we got to contribute in unique ways playing a crucial role in the work of AFSP.
The assignments designated to us were not menial office tasks. To put it in my dad’s terms, we were not “glorified office assistants.” Our work was important and valuable to the success of AFSP. The work that I did was not only enjoyable, but it was educational. It provided me with knowledge about the topic of suicide and suicide prevention, and it also gave me skills that could prove useful in the years to come. Not only was the work incredible, but the experiences we were given were unlike any of my fellow classmates. We got to attend conferences, hill briefings, congressional hearings, and many other events. The exposure helped me gain even more awareness of not only the topic of suicide prevention but also the role of public policy in shaping the United States.
I would recommend this internship to people interested in public policy (especially health policy), mental health, or suicide prevention. I have learned so much that I will take with me into the future. I think AFSP truly understands that value of having interns and fully utilizes them. At the same time, I would say that they recognize that internships are all about learning. This is an organization that has beautifully mastered the combination of the two! My personal experience exceeded all expectations and proved to be the most rewarding internship that I have participated in.