The University Record, June 17, 2002

Interns make D.C. their summer home

By Mike Waring
Washington, D.C., Office

Interns Jenny Chau and Debbie Ross
A recent Washington Post article estimated that close to 20,000 young people descend upon the nation’s capital each summer to work as interns in congressional and agency offices, media outlets and advocacy organizations. U-M students are no exception, and there are literally dozens of them here this year wanting to learn how government and the media work.

Among the longest-running summer intern programs is the Public Service Intern Program (PSIP) sponsored by U-M’s Career Planning and Placement Office. Program Director Amy Hoag oversees this annual effort, which this year has brought 63 undergraduate students to D.C. during June and July. This is an increase over last year, when just short of 50 participated. Most of the students live in dorms at George Washington University in the city, although some find rental housing on their own.

This year’s U-M interns are working at a variety of offices. Eleven of the interns are working on Capitol Hill for House or Senate offices, including Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Max Cleland (D-GA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Michigan Reps. David Bonior (D-Mount Clemens) and Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak). This year’s student coordinator is Greg Try, who recently graduated from U-M and is working for Michigan Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland).

In addition to congressional offices, U-M students are working at such diverse organizations as ABC News, the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Crime Prevention Council and the U.S. Supreme Court. Agencies including the departments of commerce, defense, labor and state also are hosting students. And beyond the PSIP program, numerous other U-M students have created their own internship opportunities throughout the city—some paid, some unpaid.

The U-M Washington office is hosting two interns this summer, including Jenny Chau, a 20-year-old LS&A senior, and Debby Ross, a 23-year-old grad. student in engineering who is working with Toby Smith of the D.C. office on science and research issues. Like many of their counterparts, these interns will get an insider’s view of the legislative and regulatory process through doing research, attending hearings and other functions, and working with government relations professionals or media outlets.

“As an engineering student, I am hoping to learn more about science policy and how it affects the research we do at U-M,” said Ross. Her counterpart Chau added, “I have a real interest in education issues and in community service. Working in the Washington office is giving me a chance to learn more about federal policies that deal with those interests.”

Most of the interns find their time in Washington extremely valuable, and many return to the capital after finishing their degrees to pursue careers in a variety of fields. So while the events of Sept. 11 have changed the climate of Washington, they have not dissuaded students from coming to the capital again this year to continue their education and to think about government, advocacy and media jobs as possible long-term careers.

For more information, contact the Washington office, (202) 554-0578 or