U senior’s internship brings her new responsibilities at Pentagon

Liz Kohman

University senior Amanda Bloomgren found herself handing out press releases to a row of reporters in front of the mangled, burning Pentagon last night.

It was a task she couldn’t have imagined when she first transferred to the Washington Semester Program – a program mixing internship experience with classes – at American University in Washington, D.C.

Bloomgren, a Carlson School of Management student majoring in marketing and public relations, said she was depressed when she learned she would be the marketing intern at the Solid Waste Association of North America and wasn’t placed at CNN.

But her job responsibilities have changed dramatically since Tuesday’s terrorist attacks.

Bloomgren was riding the subway on her way to class Tuesday morning when the plane crashed into the Pentagon. Her class was meeting at a museum in the same part of the city as the building.

Bloomgren didn’t realize anything out of the ordinary had happened until she got off at her stop and saw masses of people trying to leave the city.

She found the museum closed and her classes canceled. Bloomgren said traffic was in gridlock, and a man in a suit and tie was managing traffic at one intersection.

Despite the chaos, Bloomgren said she wasn’t afraid.

“I didn’t understand the severity of the situation,” she said.

Bloomgren returned to the home where she lives and works as a nanny in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a city near Washington, D.C.

At the house, she learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

Administrators from her school called her and the other 499 students in the program to make sure she had gotten home safely.

She also heard planes flying over her house – an unusual sound, since the house isn’t normally under a flight path.

Bloomgren said listening to the planes was the only time she felt afraid.

Although the city shut down Tuesday, almost everything in Washington was running normally by Wednesday morning, Bloomgren said. But she did notice a higher police presence, she added.

She went to her internship at 10 a.m. and began a busy day of writing press releases and contacting reporters.

The company for which she works manages solid waste and plans to help clean up the debris from the aftermath of the attacks.

Bloomgren said John Skinner, the CEO of the Solid Waste Association, told her the debris from the World Trade Center towers created 1.25 million tons of garbage – nine times the amount of garbage created in the United States per day.

After a long day in the office, Bloomgren went to the Pentagon to pass out press releases to the media.

She said she hiked about two miles down the freeway to a gas station where reporters had set up camp.

“I’m so close, it’s insane,” she said as she stood approximately a quarter of a mile away from what she described as “the gaping hole in the Pentagon.”

Despite the attacks, Bloomgren plans to stick with her yearlong internship in Washington: “I’m not changing my plans at all.”

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected]