2019 DC Internship Alumni reception

Back row, from left: Anastasia Ryskin, Erin Patterson, Corbin Baldwin, Director, Professor Christine Barbour, Jamie Nickel, Eddie Alarcon, Stef Sharp. Front row, from left: Chuck Alcock and Hank Ruff.

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.

"I really enjoyed the location of the program. Living on Capitol Hill and near the National Mall was an such a great experience. Passing the Capitol on my way to my internship everyday was something I never got tired of."

"The location, classes, and opportunities I had during my internship created memories I will not soon forget. Though the road was sometimes tough, this was the best way I could have spent my last semester at IU."

—Erin Pattterson, Brookings Institute

"I wasn't expecting to enjoy my living experience in downtown DC as much as I did. The work I was able to do on the Hill was phenomenal and I made some lasting connections with both my house mates and my colleagues in my office. I highly recommend this experience for anyone even slightly interested in a career in DC."

"I've learned more in my five months in Washington DC than I did in my previous three semesters at IU Bloomington. The IU POLS DC experience will teach you skills that are broader than simply a crash course in the ins and outs of DC life; it'll teach you how to live with other interesting people, how to navigate a large urban sprawl, and challenge you if you're the type to thrive in the bustling world of the capitol."

"Professor Barbour has truly been a pleasure to work with. Through her teachings at the IU Satellite to helping me figure out my journey throughout these last five months I can honestly say she is a big draw to people considering this program. Professor Barbour is a gem and we were all lucky to have her beside us in these unforgettable five months."

—Corbin Baldwin

“It provided me with an incredible experience that has helped me make an informed evaluation of my career goals in the future”

—Hank Ruff

“The chance to experience DC first hand as an undergrad has inspired me to pursue public service in all its forms.”

—Jamie Nickel

"IU POLS DC is undoubtedly the best thing that could have happened to me as a student, as a young professional, and as a person. Before this program, I had my fingers crossed that majoring in Political Science was the right fit for me and that it would allow me to live a fulfilling professional life. Four months later, not only do I know that I made the right choice for a degree, but I now have the necessary skills and connections as a foundation on which to build my career. This is the ultimate immersion experience that will prepare you for life beyond IU, and I am endlessly grateful that I have had the opportunity to take part in it.

—Anastasia Ryskin