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Eberly News Blog

27 Aug
Tessa DDutko

The academic school year ends, but students in the Eberly College never stop learning.

Each summer, many students choose to brighten their futures and expand their education by completing summer internships.

These are their stories.


Story by Mike Atkinson
Photo provided by Tessa Dutko


Tessa Dutko, Junior
Hometown: Martinsburg, West Virginia
Major: Political Science (international relations), International Studies (national security), Russian Language
Minor: French
Internship: Interning for US Embassy in St. Petersburg, Russia

What was it like growing up in Martinsburg?

It was a rather small town. It’s grown a lot since then. It’s a pretty close-knit community. I was pretty involved in the community from the time I was young, so I had a lot of role models growing up there that inspired me to get into politics. I’ve been interested in politics since I was in sixth grade.

Who were some of your role models?

My sixth grade history teacher, Mr. Chapman was his name. He would always start arguments with me in class, no matter what it was about, to try to get me to debate with him. That was probably my biggest role model from the time I was younger.

My parents always encouraged me to be very active in politics as well, and just do things in the community. One of my first jobs was at a retirement home; I served dinner to the residents there. There were always residents who would talk politics with me, so that was always an encouragement.

Are there any particular experiences or interesting stories about Martinsburg?

There’s a lot of Civil War history in my hometown. You can drive about 15 minutes and there’s Antietam battlefield. Gettysburg isn’t far away. The C&O canal is about ten minutes from my house. Shepherdstown is a big history town, that’s about ten minutes from my home.

There’s a lot of American history there. We’re also very close to Washington, D.C. So our field trips were always involved with American history. That was really awesome.

Living in an area where there is so much history is an experience in and of itself. I think that is mainly responsible for the interest I have in working for the government. From a very young age I was well aware of the sacrifices that so many had made to make this country what it is today.

So what led you to WVU?

Well, I grew up in Martinsburg, and WVU was the big West Virginia school. I applied to WVU, and it was actually the only school I applied to because (of scholarship help). My mom actually teases me a lot about how much I’ve come to love WVU. If I could go back, no matter what school I got into I would still choose WVU if I knew how far it would take me today.

The professors here have just been wonderful. Dr. (David) Hauser has really inspired me to always go the extra step. He’s really involved with the students. He’s taken us to D.C. multiple times to look at graduate schools and tour the CIA and the DIA and stuff like that.

The professors are really involved and they care about your future here, and that’s something that I really love about this school.

Can you share a few experiences you’ve had while you were at WVU?

I’m a pretty boring person socially. I don’t really do the party thing. I don’t get out much. My club is the library. I actually meet a lot of people through academic clubs.

One of the best experiences I’ve had here was the trip I took with Dr. Hauser and five other students to (Washington) D.C to tour graduate schools. I was really set that I wanted to get my Ph.D. in political science. After that trip it showed me that there are a lot of options, and you’re kind of selling yourself short if you don’t explore all of those. That really changed what I was thinking I wanted to do academically with the rest of my life.

How did you hear about your internship?

Dr. (David) Hauser. He actually told me about it a year ago and I started thinking about it. Then Ronny (Thompson), who does a lot of the coordinating for political science department sent out an email to all of the political science students about it, as they always do, and it was really helpful that they do that. It lets you get a feel for your options. I got on USA Jobs and applied that way, not actually believing I would get the internship.

What will you be doing at this internship?

I will be working in the Security Management Division of the Consulate. They’ve given me an outline of what I’ll be doing. I have to get my security clearance before I get a lot of details.

I’m going to be doing a lot of community organizing things. I’m going to be writing a pamphlet about security in the community of St. Petersburg. I’m going to be entering in a database, different things to form statistics on crime and things like that in St. Petersburg. I’m going to be trying to put together a community recycling project and organize ways that, not only the consulate, but the community can be greener.

I’m also going to be forming badges to come up with a better program that’s more efficient for security inside the consulate.

What do you hope to accomplish with this internship?

I think the biggest thing I want to accomplish while working there is that I think as students we often learn so much about academic life. Then when you go out into the workforce, it’s hard to make that transition and learn how to apply all of the academics into your everyday life and work. I really hope to learn not only that, but also ‘how does our government function on a day-to-day basis in keeping us safe at home and abroad?’ and ‘how do we interact with other countries?’ I think that we think it’s just a government interaction type thing, but I think one of the main goals of the state department is to interact with communities on a much closer level.

I hope to be able to do that in Russia and learn ‘what does Russia want from us?’ and ‘what do we want from Russia?’

What are your career goals? What do you want to do after you graduate?

I hope to figure that out while I’m over there too. I know I want to work for the government. Ultimately, I’d like to do intelligence. I’d like to be an all source analyst, for maybe the CIA or the NSA.

More recently I’ve been thinking about Foreign Service, and taking the Foreign Service exam and possibly becoming a Foreign Service officer.

At this point I’m torn over whether I want to go into the policy arena or the intelligence and national security community. They are basically polar opposites, so I really hope that this internship helps me decide which one I would be better at.

I definitely want to do a master’s after I leave WVU—not sure where that’ll take me, but I want to continue with Russia. I want to do something with Russia, whatever I do.

How will this internship help you achieve those goals?

I think internships are really helpful, and many professors have told me this, in showing when you apply for an actual job that you know what’s going on. I know that master’s programs also try to prepare you for a work setting, but I hope to work while I’m getting a master’s. I’d like to start working.

I’d like to be able to do this internship so when I go to apply for jobs with the U.S. government I can tell them at least I know I can give you a basic outline of policy goals, security goals and interact well in that environment.

You had mentioned Dr. Hauser. Is he your favorite professor?

I don’t have one favorite professor at WVU. I would say I have a top five. This list is in no particular order:

He’s definitely my favorite professor. I give him that, hands down. Not just because of how he teaches in the classroom. I do like how he leaves a very open interactive environment in the classroom for students to voice their opinion and debate and talk with each other. But at the same time, he always encourages students to do the extra thing, go the extra mile. It really pays out.

I know Dr. Hauser does a lot of things to help students that he does not have to do as a professor. I don’t think he realizes how much we appreciate that as students.

Do you have any specific experiences from his class that stuck with you?

Every class. Dr. Hauser really pushes me to think outside the box. He challenges people’s perceptions and opinions. I came to WVU with a very strict set of opinions that I thought were the right way, and I can honestly say that I still have strong opinions about certain things, but Dr. Hauser has really challenged me to think other ways and that’s helped me a lot.

One of the biggest things I credit Dr. Hauser with is improving my writing skills. I had him for Empirical Political Analysis and it was one of the hardest classes I ever took, and I came out 100 times a better writer.

What was your favorite class that you’ve had at WVU?

Probably comparative politics with Dr. (Cyanne) Loyle. I really liked that class, and I actually ended up changing my tract in my major because of that class. It was a really great class. You learn about how government systems interact.

That also inspired me to learn a little bit more about Russia. I’m Russian by heritage, but I didn’t have a whole lot of interest in it until I became more aware of their politics.

Dr. Loyle is another one of my favorite professors here. She also leaves a very open environment in the classroom, but she’s so smart and so awesome. I remember she did my advising one time and she asked me “where do you want to be? What are your career goals?” I basically said “If I were you in ten years I would be completely satisfied.”

She also does things that I think, to me, are really—She’s been all over Africa, she’s very into researching statistics behind genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, humans rights violations and stuff like that.

I think it’s really scary for us to think about stuff like that, but Dr. Loyle just gets on the ground and gets her way in there and learns about it, and then brings her research back here. It’s really awesome. It really makes me proud that we have professors like that at WVU that are willing to have such passion and go after what we as students want to know more about too.

Take Five with Tessa

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I read a lot! I also play the piano. I really like music a lot. I recently got into hiking, so I do a lot of that too.

Do you have any pets?

I have a snake. His name is Caesar. I’ve had him for three years now, he’s my best buddy.

What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?

Breyers party cake, because it has the little blue swirls in it.

What is the funniest thing that you’ve seen at WVU?

One of the funniest things I’ve seen here is during the PRT cram in front of the Mountainlair, all of the kids are so dedicated to getting stuffed in that car.

What’s one thing you’ll never forget about WVU?

Probably how much pride everybody has for this school. People love this school. I like that.

Where is your favorite place in Morgantown, or at WVU?

The Library. Fourth floor, Eliza’s, table in the corner by the window. I’m always there, and everyone knows that’s where to find me.

Want to be featured in our summer series? Email mike.atkinson@mail.wvu.edu with details about your internship.

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