What Goes Around Comes Around
Life has a funny way of giving back what you put out. My semester in D.C. was like that, the more I did the more I got out of my experience. I never thought that I would be able to get into the graduate internship program at the World Bank; I never thought that I would do campaign strategy consulting with Notre Dame fellows; I never thought that I would meet life-long friends from UCD and UCSB. But I did, all because I made up my mind to take on the challenge of going to D.C. I am so fortunate that I have been able to embrace my mature and professional self!
At the World Bank, I interned under the Finance and Private Sector Research Group, which I assisted by doing research for the paper “Foreign Bank Subsidiaries’ Default Risk During the Global Crisis: What Factors Help Insulate Affiliates from their Parents?” My research experience involved collecting data and a heavy literature review. The research contained many uncertainties that my mentor asked me to explore, and I was asked to examine possible approaches to measuring the independency of subsidiaries. I remember the moment when I came to her, unsure of a definition related to shareholding. She forwarded my question to a professional economist at the Bank! Finally we received an answer from the specialist at banking governance. I feel like from the beginning of my internship, my mentor not only supervised my research but was also learning with me, which I believe is the attitude of a top research institution—never afraid to ask questions, always improving their expertise.
As a lead economist and research manager for our department, my mentor had a tight schedule every day. But she maintained her attention on me and the other consultants, which I appreciated a lot. Before my internship ended, we had a conversation about career planning. She told me that she had done a similar program as I was doing, and interned at the Bank almost 20 years ago. I am so inspired by her story and I hope I will go as far as she has. My colleagues threw me a warm farewell dinner, and because of them, my internship has left me with such good memories.
Another significant learning experience for me during my semester in D.C. was my academic research paper. I took the class Campaigns and Elections with Professor Kenneth Goldstein, who serves as president of Kantar Media - a non-partisan Washington, D.C. based political consulting firm that provides media intelligence and political advertising strategies for campaigns, trade associations, and the news media. In 2012, Kantar Media clients included the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns. During the lectures, I had the opportunity to learn about voter turnout modeling, as well as to share thoughts with campaign researchers and data visualization/micro-targeting professionals. As part of my final project, I applied what I learned this semester and did a presentation on media buying. Learning with Prof. Goldstein combined academic training with an ear for real politics and strategy; this is also the attraction of Washington, D.C., learning about politics where politics is actually happening.
Just two weeks before I returned home to China, my cousin had his wedding ceremony. Though I was not able to be at the ceremony, I made a video for him with the help of my friends Zala, Yu-ta, Amah and Janet. I want to thank them for helping me with my video and sending their blessings to my dear cousin. I never thought I could form such strong friendships with people I had only known for a few months.
Participating in the UC Berkeley Washington Program and being a Matsui Fellow have made my Cal experience more unforgettable. Even though my time in D.C. has come to an end, I would rather think of it as the start of another journey.
Yixi Zhao is a UC Berkeley junior double majoring in Economics and Media Studies. She is currently studying and interning at the World Bank-Finance and Private Sector Research Group as a Matsui Washington Fellow at the University of California Washington D.C. Center.