April 8, 2020

CALL Program Prepares Students for the Professional World

In fall of 2019 Georgetown University started offering students the opportunity to participate in the Capitol Applied Learning Lab (CALL) program. The CALL program gives students the chance to earn a semester’s worth of credit while cultivating professional skills and living in downtown DC.

Students participate in a walking tour of the Capitol Hill neighborhood with Professor Uwe Brandes.
Students participate in a walking tour of the Capitol Hill neighborhood with Professor Uwe Brandes.

The idea for the CALL program started with the Red House, an innovative organization at Georgetown that strives to make higher education more effective and equitably beneficial to society. 

“The CALL program combines living, learning, and working downtown,” explained Abigail Lewis, director of the program. “Students spend part of their week in an internship, with the other part taking courses - and in between exploring the city.”

Students who participate in the program complete an internship of their choice over the course of the semester, while taking credit-bearing seminar style classes. These classes allow them to reflect on their work while gaining insight into how organizational structures function. Professors take their classes outside the traditional classroom setting, allowing students to learn about the professional world by immersing themselves in it.

Urban Immersion

The CALL program encourages students to go out into DC and interact with the city they are living in. 

“Students are experiencing the city in a variety of new and exciting ways, including interactive and immersive courses like the CALL City Seminar where students meet with Georgetown faculty to take walking tours, or with City Hall officials to learn about the District’s government, or with leaders from the Anacostia Community Museum or Howard University,” said Lewis. 

Other downtown courses take advantage of their central location by taking students to the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Archives, and even the Supreme Court for class meetings. 

However, according to Lewis, the program is more than just the destinations students visit. “Living downtown, using public transit regularly, and interacting with people off-campus are all experiences that help evolve how students see themselves and their place within the city,” she explained.  

Students collaborate during a class meeting at the School of Continuing Studies.
Students collaborate during a class meeting at the School of Continuing Studies.

Local Work with Global Impact

DC’s global dimensions provide a range of ways for students to get involved with global topics from inside the city. Ivan Jimenez (C’21) is one of the students who participated in the CALL program this spring, where he worked on immigration.

Jimenez interned at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), a nonprofit which serves Latinx immigrants, many of whom came from countries in Central America such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. At CARECEN, Ivan worked in the legal department, where he assisted citizenship applicants. 

“I have a steady flow of translations,” Jimenez explained. “In many cases there is a need to have original documents which are issued from varying Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America translated to English.” He also assisted in planning workshops to inform immigrants about their legal rights during the citizenship process. 

Preparing for the Future

An important element of the CALL program is the way it prepares students for life after college. 

“College isn’t like the professional working world. The CALL program forces you to think about what you want in your working life. It also forces you to think about how you want to engage and spend your time outside of your internship,” said Jimenez.

The program is more than just professional; students must live alongside their cohort, which means they cook together, travel together, and discuss their work days together. 

These experiences widen and deepen their networks, expand their horizons on potential career paths, and grow their professional capital.

Lewis explained. “What we’re hearing from students is that their experience at the CALL has helped them feel better equipped to transition into a career - with a better understanding of how to balance work and life after college, and more openness to the different career paths they will encounter both in the short and long term.”