The University of Kansass Washington Internship program provided almost 500 internships to students during the past 25 years. Students have worked in congressional offices, the White House and lobbying firms. Last spring 15 students interned in Washington, D.C., and several of them got jobs in politics afterward.
Sara Shannon, Ottawa senior, is still in Washington, D.C., working as a communications assistant for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). She earned her job after interning with Reids office.
Applying for my internship was the best thing Ive ever done, Shannon said. Im very glad I did it.
Shannon credited her spring internship for landing her a job during the summer.
Other political science students got jobs after their internships as well.
Burdett Loomis, professor of political science, serves as the director of KU Political Science internship programs in Washington D.C. and Topeka.
With Sara and dozens of other KU students, this program opens up real career possibilities for liberal arts undergraduates, Loomis said. Still, the core purpose of the internships is to foster learning through doing, and most interns conclude that their experience in D.C. was one of the high points of their KU careers.
David Greenwald, Overland Park senior, worked for U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on the Senate Finance Committee and now works as a field director for U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in Overland Park, Kansas.
I cant guarantee that being an intern will get me a better job, but it definitely helps, Greenwald said. It also made me grow and mature as a person and that probably helps more.
David Jones, Kansas City, Kan., senior, worked for U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and is now an outreach coordinator for the Kansas Democratic Party. Jones hopes his experience will help him get a job with Governor Kathleen Sebelius in the fall.
I learned more in D.C. than I ever could have in a classroom, Jones said. It gave me new perspective on what to do after KU.
Jones plans on volunteering with the Peace Corps for two years after graduation. He said his long-term goal was to become an ambassador.
Greenwald and Shannon both said they learned about political compromise while watching the politicians work.
Compromise is how things get done, Shannon said. In government and life you have to realize there are two sides to every issue and you need to rectify that.
Interns do more than work; they also have fun. Greenwald said the Washington, D.C., cultural opportunities, like music, museums, food and nightlife did not compare to Kansas. One of his favorite things was Union Station Crazies.
Sometimes when wed get off the metro there was a guy whod be saying Obama is a monster and that he eats children, Greenwald said. Going into work everyday was a riot.
The University Career Center lists more than 100 companies that offer internships on its Web site, like Apple Inc., Dreamworks, LOREAL and XM Radio.
Every major has internship opportunities, Shannon said. If you put together a good resume, go to the career center and followup your chances get better.