She spent the summer working in the office of Alabama Congressman Armistead Selden Jr., a member of her home state’s congressional delegation.
The work itself was typical intern fare—answering constituent mail and a variety of other administrative duties. But Selden also allowed the Wheaton government major to perform research for the House Subcommittee on Latin American Affairs, which he chaired, and a group involved in an area of the world in which Weil was particularly interested.
“I came back to Wheaton in the fall and said, ‘I learned more this summer than in any one course I took,’” Weil said. “Whatever I had been exposed to while doing work as a 20-year-old intern, it opened my eyes to politics, business and government.”
The experience sparked her desire to live and work where the nation’s policy was formed, and it inspired her to provide the means for future students to start their own journey of discovery.
She moved to Washington after graduation, starting her career in the division of foreign affairs of the Congressional Research Office, a service of the Library of Congress.
Today, Weil, who earned an M.B.A. at Georgetown University, is the managing director for the Business Council for International Understanding, an organization that connects senior business executives with heads of state, cabinet ministers and senior government officials. The council also briefs senior officials in the State Department on issues of importance to American businesses working overseas, including issues involving intellectual property protections, price controls and state-sanctioned corruption.
“My summer internship was a stepping stone,” said Weil. “For me, it was a turning point.”
“Wheaton transformed me,” she said. “It wasn’t just the internship. Wheaton certainly gave me an education and the kind of classroom challenge that you don’t get in a large university.”
Her reflections on her college experience, including that internship, led the former Wheaton trustee to establish an endowed fund to support internship stipends for the college’s current and future students.
“I think it’s so important for people to explore their career possibilities,” she said. “Internships expose students to the real world in a way that even good colleges can’t.”
The Virginia A. Weil ’65 Endowed Internship Fund will provide stipends for students interested in careers in international business and diplomacy with emphasis on practical, employment-oriented pursuits.
Weil noted that her family was able to support her during the summer she spent in Washington, D.C. “Not every student can afford to take an unpaid internship and live away from home,” she said. “I hope the students who receive stipends from the fund will have experiences that mean as much to them as mine did to me.”