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Classroom to Careers: Elisa D’Amico

The scholar path. I’ll admit I have contemplated it. I mean who doesn’t want to be called Dr.? Plus, you don’t have to go through the whole job song and dance everyone else does come senior year. Well, that’s not entirely true. Even if you want to be a career scholar, it is still important to take internships in your field.

Elisa D’Amico is not your typical student. In 2.5 years she completed two majors and two minors here at ISU. Immediately after, she entered graduate school, and she is currently finishing up her master’s in public policy in the Political Science department. After she graduates, she hopes to obtain a Ph.D. and ultimately end up in academia. Her course load seems pretty hectic as it is, but she isn’t just focusing on education to propel her towards her goals.

This past summer Elisa worked for Vote Smart as a Special Interest Groups Data Intern. Vote Smart is an organization that provides “free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans” ( In her position, Elisa compiled and reported on state and national data for special interest groups. The research and statistical elements of her position at Vote Smart correlated nicely with the skills she gained as a political science major at ISU, and the data accumulation portion of her position was a new skill she had to learn on the job.

Learning on the job provided Elisa with a new skill base that will give her a leg up as she continues her academia trek, and it wasn’t only hard skills that provided her with new knowledge. When asked how this opportunity will help her career goals, Elisa stated that “working for a nonprofit organization in the research field gave me great insight into what this would truly look like for me rather than just imagining my potential future career.”

Elisa is what I would call a very focused student. Her deep understanding of what she wants and how she wants to get there allowed her to plan out the best way for her to achieve her dreams, and, if you want, you can be this focused too. Elisa recommends you “sit down and plan your four years early on.” Figure out what you want from your degree as soon as you can, so you can maximize what you get out of your college experience, and if you don’t know exactly what you want, try talking to an advisor or career services for some help or ideas.

It is important to be focused whether you are here for a Bachelors or a Ph.D. Our school sure loves to ramble on about “choosing your adventure,” but you really are in control of your own future. Maximize your time here. Study abroad, take classes important to your future, and always, always remember to get some real-world experience no matter what path you are planning on taking. You’ll never regret working hard.