Spring 2019 marked the launch of our DC internship program, a project a year and a half in the making. The pilot class of IU POLS (Politics, Opportunities, Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship) DC – a manageable nine students – was a super success. Students’ experiences ranged from internships on the Hill -- including in Congressman Andre Carson’s office and Congressman Elijah Cummings’ as well as in those of two congressmen from Colorado, two from California, and one from Connecticut, to the Brookings Institute and the Middle East Institute.
The goal of the program, which was run with the support of the Walter Center for Career Achievement, is to connect the dots from the classroom to the workplace. An intensive fall spent identifying their interests and skills, learning to tell their story to themselves and what to divulge in each specialized resume, filling out applications, cover-letter writing (a good cover letter is a love letter, our Walter Center coach told us; good ones are not easy to write), interviewing, and professional etiquette. Spring was spent for the most part falling in love with DC and working their rear ends off. While in “IU Political Science on the Potomac” they took six hours of internship credit -- filling out the fall of prep work with weekly reflection papers, academic readings, and a capstone paper – plus two three-hundred level political science classes taught by Dr. Jessica Gerrity, an IU Ph.D. alum who works in DC as a consultant, and by me. This let them maintain their full time student status to keep them on track and to ensure no one lost financial aid. While in DC, they lived in an authentic Capitol Hill town house minutes from most of their work, part of a block of interns and near neighbors with Senators and congress people.
How did it turn out for them? Department communication and word of mouth has filled our class of 24 (two townhouses!) for next spring – a met goal that thrills us. We finished the semester with a cocktail and cotton candy gathering of more than 30 IU political science alums in our IU Office space where networks were built and our class realized that they were the next generation of DC IU alums.