What to Expect

As a WISE intern, you will learn, explore, write, research, and enjoy a whole new world. You will not be serving in an office as a typical intern. No running errands or stuffing envelopes for you. Among many other things, you will:

  • Participate in weekly group meetings with individuals from Congress, the administration, and government relations professionals from the business and association community in Washington. These professionals will inform you of their respective roles in the public policymaking process.
  • Have group meetings with your fellow interns to discuss what you’ve learned and to review your progress.
  • Attend fun social events.

Every year is different, but to get an idea of what WISE entails, take a peek at the 2009 WISE program schedule.

A faculty-member-in-residence (FMR) will supervise your work. The FMR is an engineer with a background in public policy, or a public policy professor hired to run each year’s program. Each sponsoring society also provides staff and/or volunteer mentors who work directly with you to help guide your research.

In addition to the visits and interaction with the FMR and your society mentors, you will also spend a significant portion of your time independently researching, writing, and presenting a policy paper on a topic of interest to you and your sponsoring society. Your sponsoring society will provide any specific guidelines and requirements for writing your paper. Your research typically includes opportunities to meet with policymakers and analysts. For examples of past work, see the WISE Journal of Engineering & Public Policy.


In addition to the society mentors and experts who you will meet when you arrive in Washington, the WISE program is extremely lucky to receive support of, and benefit from the experts at, the Library of Congress. Each year, at the beginning of the program, the WISE students receive Library of Congress (LC) Science Policy Briefings. They also continue to receive throughout the 9-week program, research support by the specialists in the LC’s Science, Technology, and Business Division. An example of the program agenda can be viewed here.

Technology & Public Policy

Read about the Legislative Process and learn more about How Congress Works from this collection of CRS Reports. Explore the educational resources section of the House of Representatives website and the reference section of the Senate website to learn how our Congress works. Experiment with Congress.gov, the Library of Congress’ legislative information website.

Check the pulse of Capitol Hill by reading Roll Call, The Hill and/or The Politico, which provide inside news and gossip for Capitol Hill-types. Track the Washington-take on national issues in the Washington Post.

You’ll have plenty of time to explore the unique cultural, historical, and entertainment resources and attractions of Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.


Each intern receives (3) three stipend payments totaling $2,100 during the 9-week program. WISE issues your first check during orientation, your second check midway through the program, and your last check after you have turned in your final paper. Additionally, the WISE program pays for all of your housing (excluding food) costs at George Washington University – the equivalent of approximately an additional $3,800 per intern.

Dress Code

During the program, you will visit government and other professional offices, thus you are expected to have suitable business attire. However, you should also bring plenty of casual, cool clothing as Washington summers can be very hot and humid. Please check with your sponsoring society to be sure of what you should be wearing on a daily basis. Office dress codes vary by office. However, note that flip flops – even “dressy” flip flops – and shorts are are never permitted, anywhere during the work day. Note that if you bring shoes that you normally do not wear during the school year, you may want to ensure that they are comfortable. You will be walking, … a lot! Ladies, if you like heels, you may want to adopt the habit of carrying a second pair of comfortable shoes with you. This is the norm for commuters in DC and you will see women changing their shoes before heading into meetings and office buildings.

Washington summers are famous for brief but severe thunderstorms in the afternoons. Having a small, sturdy folding umbrella is very useful.


Travel to and from Washington, D.C. to participate in the program is not included in your stipend and you will need to make your own travel arrangements.


Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
(very close to downtown DC and accessible via Metro, or about a $20 cab ride to the dorms.)

Washington Dulles International Airport
(no Metro trains travel to Dulles; shuttle buses travel between the airport and Metro, about $70 for a cab ride from the airport to DC)

Baltimore Washington International Airport*
(accessible via both Amtrak & MARC trains on the weekdays, and only Amtrak on the weekends; the trip is 45 miles one-way; cabs are expensive.)

*Supershuttle travels to and from both BWI and Dulles, and is a lower cost option than a cab.


MARC train

Amtrak comes into Washington at Union Station on Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C. Metro Transit System (WMATA)
Metrorail, or “Metro” – is clean, modern, safe and easy to use. WISE will provide each of you with $100.00 in Metro use to help supplement your local subway travel within the Washington, D.C. area. These cards are to be used for travel to and from your meetings, but they will not cover all of your personal and recreational Metro costs. You will be responsible for the remainder.

Your dorms are located within walking distance of your daily office spaces and you will not need to use Metro to get back and forth every day.

Rates vary depending on the destination point and time of day. Metro rates, routes, and schedule information can be found online or by calling 202.637.7000. (Metro Map)

WISE will issue each WISE intern one (1) pre-loaded SmartTrip card. You are responsible for the card once it is placed in your care. These cards are the same as cash and if lost, can not be replaced. Ensure against loss by registering your SmartTrip card online. If you do so, WMATA will replace the card for a $2 fee and reimburse the amount of the lost card.

Using a SmartTrip card gets you a discounted fare on both buses and Metrorail.


You may use cash on the buses but you will pay a higher fare, and riders must have the exact fare for each bus trip as drivers do not make change. Rates vary depending on the destination point and the time of day. Schedules, rates and other information are available online.

Physically handicapped persons can ride Metrobus and Metrorail for half price with ID. For further information, contact Metro Handicapped Office, call 202.962.1245.


DC’s taxis now use meters, so ignore any horror stories that you might have heard about the taxi zone systems.

Uber & Lyft:

Both of these services are available in DC and are less expensive than DC’s taxis.


Bike and Roll
Bicycle rentals include Trek comfort bikes, performance bikes, road bikes, and tandem bikes. All bike rentals include a helmet, U-lock, bike rack, flat kit and city map.

Capital Bikeshare
Worth the investment of a month or two’s worth of membership.

For information on the difference between the two, go here.

Rental Cars:

For those of you who want to rent cars to get around DC, into Virginia, or out to the beaches, all of the usual car rental company options are available. However, if you need a car for only a few hours or less than a day, the better option is Zipcar.

Visit the DC Visitor Information Center for more information by category. Explore local dining, entertainment, and leisure opportunities through the Washingtonian Online or investigate the Washington, DC area through the Washington Post’s City Guide or WETA’s ExploreDC websites.


The WISE interns live in the dormitories at the George Washington University (GWU), located in the Foggy Bottom area of downtown Washington. Interns are assigned to 3 or 4 person dormitory rooms/ suites. Single rooms are not an option. WISE directly pays your housing costs for the 9 weeks of your internship. All campus buildings and residence halls are within walking distance of the two Metro stations serving the university. Both are on the orange and blue lines:

  • Foggy Bottom-GWU (23rd and I Streets, N.W.)
  • Farragut West (18th and I Streets, N.W.)

GWU will send an e-mail directly to all WISE interns regarding your housing arrangements. Please review that e-mail for updated check-in times. Your WISE sponsors do not receive this information. If you anticipate check-in after 8:00 p.m., you will need to make prior arrangements with GWU to ensure that staff will be available. Please call the GW office at 202 994-CLLC to make these arrangements.

Check-out must be completed before 11:00 a.m. on the last day. Check-out also takes place in New Hall where you will return your access cards. Any change in this must be prearranged through the office to avoid additional charges. If you don’t return your keys, you are responsible for them and will be charged for any loss.

Summer Housing Staff:

Summer staff members live and work in the residence halls throughout the summer months. Staff members assist groups with check-in and check-out, provide information regarding campus and the Washington, DC area, and act as support staff in all residence hall offices. One staff member is on duty each night, and can be reached for emergency situations after regular business hours. GW Summer staff members will be the first to welcome you to campus and are there to provide assistance and support throughout your stay.

Summer Access to Residence Halls:

Hall access cards are distributed to each summer resident upon check-in. The electronic access device provides access to the front entrance, elevators, and stairwells of the residence hall in which the resident is housed. Residents must carry university-issued access cards and proof of identity at all times, and present them when requested. Additionally, visitors must also show proof of identity and be escorted by residents while in the building.


Students contemplating bringing a car for the summer should be aware that parking on campus – or anywhere in DC – is very limited and in many cases, nonexistent. D.C. parking regulations severely limit opportunities for non-metered street parking and vehicles without DC plates. Some neighborhood street parking is available for two-hour time periods, but new regulations in effect prohibit parking for any length of time if you do not have DC plates and a DC parking permit. You will not need a car for your WISE-related activities. Neither will you need one for day-to-day getting around. Most DC residents do not own cars. You are encouraged to rely on public transportation. You will not be reimbursed for parking-related expenses. If you do want to bring a car, monthly leases are available in privately run garages all over the city. The average monthly lease costs about $200.


Mail is delivered to each residence hall daily. Mailbox keys or combinations will be distributed to each resident upon check-in. AA damage fee will be assessed if lost. Also, feel free to use the “IEEE-USA, Suite 700, 2001 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036” address for your mail and packages. Be sure that all mail and packages being sent to IEEE are clearly marked with your name and “WISE.”

Also, if you wish to mail anything to DC prior to your arrival, feel free to use the same IEEE-USA address to ship boxes, bikes, etc…

What to Bring:

While GW’s Summer and Conference Housing is dedicated to making your stay on campus as comfortable as possible, certain items are not available in the residence halls. These items are as follows:

  • Alarm clock
  • Blow dryer
  • Ironing board and iron
  • Kitchen utensils/dishes/pots/pans
  • Toiletries
  • Sheets, towels, blankets and pillows


Washington is a large urban area with both the pluses and minuses associated with big cities. The GWU dorms are in a generally safe area, but until you get a feel for the geography of Washington, do not go for walks alone at night in areas you do not know. The city streets comprising the campus are patrolled by campus police with the added benefit of the occasional U.S. Secret Service patrol due to proximity to the White House. The campus also uses Blue Light Phones to stay connected to students.




Best Place to Pay Respect:
Arlington National Cemetery

Best Place to Learn Everything:
The epicenter of nearly everything known to man, the Library of Congress – The Library does not allow the public to borrow books. The institutional mandate is to serve Congress. However, WISE will receive a special day of orientation at which time, you will obtain reader cards that allow you to access materials while you are using a reading room.

Best Place to Imagine the Possibilities:
National Air and Space Museum

Best Place to be Overwhelmed:
The depths of hatred are on display at the United States Holocaust Museum

Best Real Estate Tour:
Stop at the world’s most famous address at the White House

Best Place to Feel History:
Ford’s Theatre

Best Place to Live JFK’s Vision:
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Best Place to Embrace the Present:
Carter Barron Amphitheater The outdoor venue’s annual lineup includes free shows that provide a great respite from the city.

Best Place to Cozy up to A Scientist:
Sit on Einstein’s lap and have your picture taken.

And other must-do items……

Music Venues:

Go hear some music. Music venues drawing national acts include:

New York City:

If you have the energy, you can get to NYC and back in one day. The cheapest option is the “Chinatown buses” – so called because they run from Chinatown, DC to Chinatown, NY. There are many options, including: Bolt Bus and China Town Buses.

Amtrak is very comfortable, quick (3 hours), fun, and the trains run all day, everyday. Roundtrip price about $98 -190 depending upon day and time of travel.


About halfway between DC and NYC and is also a day-trip option

Beaches & Parks:

Food & Drinks:

Eat, drink, socialize & use the free internet at:

Connecting Engineers & Scientists with Public Policy Since 1980
Washington Internships for Students of Engineering