The University Record, July 23, 2001

D.C., interns learn about political process

By Mike Waring
U-M Washington, D.C., Office

Every summer, thousands of high school and college students from across the country descend on Washington, D.C., to serve as interns in both the government and private sector. U-M students are among those who are learning about the political process firsthand.

For many years, the Career Planning and Placement Center has sponsored the Public Service Intern Program (PSIP), which annually brings 40–60 U-M students to the capital for two-month internships. This year, students are working in a wide variety of positions around the city, including government agencies, media outlets and private-sector operations.

The students live at George Washington University and work during the day. PSIP students also have opportunities to meet with leaders from many walks of life. This year, the interns have toured the CIA, met with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and heard from ABC News reporter Sam Donaldson. A visit to the British Embassy is planned. The interns also interact with local alumni and can participate in a weekly class at U-M’s Washington Office.

“Interning in Washington is a wonderful opportunity to learn about Washington firsthand,” says Leslie Salba, PSIP coordinator. “PSIP helps because it creates a support system so that students aren’t thrown into the whirlwind of Washington on their own.”

While the PSIP program is U-M’s most visible intern presence, other U-M students create their own internships in Washington. Students at the Ford School of Public Policy do internships at a variety of government offices. In addition, several U-M students landed internships with Michigan lawmakers, and one student is working with the state of Michigan’s Washington office.

The U-M’s Washington Office also has interns, who are helping during the busy appropriations season. By working on research projects, attending hearings and helping with other activities, they are learning about legislative advocacy and higher education. This year, Megan Smith, a graduate student in the Ford School of Public Policy and the School of Education, and Jonah Victor, a PSIP intern, are working in the Washington Office.

A U-M campus committee is discussing the creation of a year-round Washington intern program. The plan would bring students from various departments or schools to Washington, perhaps beginning in fall 2002.

Internships have provided thousands of U-M students with opportunities to learn about the federal government and national organizations. These internships benefit both the interns and the offices where they work.

For more information, contact Mike Waring or Cindy Bank in the Washington, D.C., Office, (202) 554-0578, mwaring@umich.edu or bankc@umich.edu.