Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Record Update first

U-M summer interns fan out across D.C.

For many students, summer means a break from school — time at the pool, a summer job or even a vacation.

U.S. Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., talks with U-M students in Washington this summer as part of the University’s Public Service Intern Program (PSIP). The program helps bring political science and other students to D.C. for two months each summer to learn about government and politics. (Photo by Mike Waring)

But for 56 U-M students, the summer of '09 means spending time in the nation’s capital, working as interns at a variety of congressional offices, think tanks and advocacy organizations. They are part of an army of thousands of students nationally who use their summers to come to D.C. and learn about government and politics.

The Public Service Intern Program (PSIP) is organized each year by the U-M Career Center. From Capitol Hill to Georgetown, the students work in government or government-related internships, learning how laws are made and how lobbyists lobby.

Students begin preparing to come to Washington in the fall term through meetings conducted on campus to help them through the application process and to orient them to life as a D.C. intern. While in the city, most live in the dorms at George Washington University, just blocks from the White House.

John Lin, this year’s PSIP student intern coordinator, says he and the other students get a real inside view of the political process.

“It’s one thing to see events on the news,” says Lin, an LSA student. “It’s completely different to actually see these events unfold in person and even have a minor role in how they play out.”

In addition to working, the students get a chance to tour the sights of Washington and mingle with some of the alumni who live there. Alumni mentors volunteer to work with each student and provide career advice. 

The students also do group activities each week. Recently, the group met with U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who discussed his work as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Tours of embassies, the CIA and events with other political speakers also are organized.

Lin, who also is working as an intern in the U-M D.C. Office, says internships help students determine their own career paths after graduation.

“All of our students are interested in government and public service,” Lin says. “These experiences help us figure out if this is something we want to do in the future.”