Washington D.C. Internship
The Internship Experience in Washington
- KU's Washington Intern Program began in 1984, and since then, more than 600 students (mostly from KU, but many from Wichita State, Kansas State, Fort Hays, and others) have participated in this intensive, semester-long Washington experience. Almost all interns have considered their overall experience among the two or three best things they did as undergraduates.
- Over the years we have had a series of excellent D.C. intern coordinators. Currently, the program is led by Gary Meltz, a D.C. consultant and long-time congressional staffer. Gary participated in the program in 1997 and has excellent connections within the Washington community.
- Internships take place during the spring semester of each year. Students spend the entire semester in Washington, and work at full-time internships, which provide the best possible experiences. The internship runs from early January through May 1, although some individual positions extend into May.
- Each week there is an intern seminar, organized by Garry Meltz, which features notable speakers, ranging from former Senator Bob Dole to Washington Post reporters to think-tank scholars. We often have White House officials conduct personal tours.
- Students search out full-time intern positions that will be interesting and carry considerable student responsibility, with assistance from the Department and internship specialists in the in the University’s career center
- Students have a variety of possible full-time internship possibilities, ranging from working in congressional or executive branch offices, independent agencies, lobbying organizations, political consulting firms, campaigns and administrative agencies.
- Students live in Summit Hills Apartment Complex in Silver Spring, Maryland, during their internship. Silver Spring is just outside the District line and is very close to a Metro stop. Save for truly exceptional circumstances, students must live with the KU group at Summit Hills.
The Internship’s Financial Details
- The Washington program does cost somewhat more than a regular academic semester in Lawrence, but the KU program is among the least expensive of those offered in D.C. Tuition is charged at the hourly off-campus rate, which omits Lawrence campus fees. Apartment costs run approximately $2900 for the semester with utilities included. Commuting by the metro system averages $150 per month. Incidental expenses and food are somewhat more expensive in Washington, and there is a lot to do.
- Scholarship opportunities. There are grants available through the political science department. Currently, total scholarship resources amount to about $10,000 each spring; awards vary from $500 to $3000 and are largely based on need.
- Deposits. Once accepted into the program. Students must make a $250 deposit. This deposit can be returned until November 15th, if the student decides not to go. After November 15th, it is nonrefundable. Apartment rent is paid in advance, and the deposits go toward this expense. Remaining payments are made in December and January
The Internship Advantage
- Students can earn up to twelve hours of credit by participating in the program (typical would be 6 hours field work/internship, 3 hours seminar, 3 hours independent study)
- Students network with elected officials, federal agency administrators and national lobbyists during their time in Washington, Future job opportunities often flow from this experience, both in one's office and through contacts that interns develop. In particular, Kansas natives enjoy a very strong network in Washington.
- Students further develop their research and communication skills during their internship. The full-semester internship allows students to take on substantial responsibilities, far more than if they serve only part-time or for a few weeks (as occurs in the summer).
- Many students have used their internships as springboards to jobs and careers in D.C. The intern program is not explicitly an employment program, but it can and does help many students land a job in Washington.
Internship Application Requirements
- Students are required to meet the following in order to apply for the program:
(a)at least sophomore standing;
(b)overall GPA of at least 2.75 in all work taken at KU (waivers may be granted)
(c)completion of POLS 110 and 3.0 GPA in all Political Science courses is recommended but not required.
- Students must have the following to apply:
(a) Completed Washington Semester Application form
(b) Current academic record (Academic Progress form or transcript)
(c) A writing sample (from any subject)
(d) Two brief letters of recommendation, preferably one academic and one work-related
Application forms are available by contacting Professor Burdett Loomis by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone 785-864-9033, and can be completed at any time before mid-October. The earlier you apply, the sooner you can get started on finding an excellent intern position. Consulting with Prof. Loomis, either in person or via email is highly recommended.
- Students must obtain a special permission number from the political science department (504 Blake Hall) to enroll.
- Participants in the Washington program enroll in POLS 496 and receive fieldwork credit (6 hours) that do apply toward the political science major, although not in any specific subfield. These are credit/noncredit hours.
- Participants also enroll in POLS 494, the Washington Intern Seminar, and receive 3 hours of course credit. These credits don not count toward the major, but do represent junior-senior credits for graduation. Students will be given a letter grade based in their research paper and seminar participation.
- Students can also receive 3 hours of directed readings credit during their Washington internship. Students should make arrangements with professors individually.
- An evaluation form from your internship supervisor for all field work (496)
- A daily journal of your experiences as an intern for all field work (496)
- A 15-20 page research paper (494)
- Attendance at all meetings and active participation in the seminar (494 and 496)
Questions and Answers about the Washington D.C. Intern Program
Who is eligible?
All KU undergraduates, as well as undergraduates from other Regents universities. Although political science majors make up the largest number of participants, there are excellent opportunities for students from all schools and majors. For example, we have had several art history majors intern with the Smithsonian.
Can I work in D.C., in addition to my internship?
Absolutely not, without exception. The program assumes a full-time internship. You will work hard, usually from 9 AM to 6 PM, and sometimes longer. Plus you will write a major paper and may take a readings course. Working at an outside job seriously compromises the purposes of the internship.
What happens to my scholarship and other aid?
This varies by individual, but in general students have maintained their aid during the Washington semester. The Financial Aid office has been most cooperative in working with interns. In addition, the Political Science department does offer substantial additional aid.
Are the apartments furnished?
To an extent. There are beds, tables, and chairs, sofas, etc., but there are no towels, sheets, blankets, silverware, toasters, etc.
Should I take a car?
The Metro service to Silver Spring in excellent, but cars are useful, both in getting to DC and getting around the city/region, once you are there. There are many day trips and shopping is easier with a car. Carpooling to DC is cheaper than airfare, plus you can tote more stuff like TV sets, stereos, etc.
Is D.C. safe?
In the post-9/11 era, it is clearly important to think through safety issues thoroughly. To date, we have had no problems since 9/11, but we take student safety extremely seriously. On the crime front, we have had an occasional incident but never an injury. With reasonable caution, the experience is not particularly dangerous. The first seminar acquaints students with the city and ways to be safe.
How should I handle money issues?
In that apartment expenses are paid up front, with bankcards, it's not really crucial to open a D.C. checking account.
Is medical care available?
Participating students should have medical insurance that will cover them in D.C. Bethesda has a hospital near the apartments and George Washington University hospital is a major comprehensive medical center.
Where have prior students obtained internships?
Students can obtain a list of former interns and where they conducted their internship by contacting the department. The range is great. Many students work for Kansas legislators, but we also regularly have interns in the White House, the State Department, many other legislative offices, numerous interest groups (e.g., Sierra Club), think tanks (American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute), corporations (Sprint), and international agencies such as INTREPOL. Every year students find excellent new positions, which is why we ask students to seek their own internships, with assistance from faculty.
Are internships paid?
This varies. Some of the very best internships, like those at the State Department, are largely unpaid. Legislative offices depend on the individual Member of Congress. In general, many more internships offer pay or stipends now than when we began the program in 1984. There is a reasonable chance you can obtain a paid internship, but this shouldn't be your main criterion.
Must I take 12 hours of credit?
No, many students take fewer hours. In fact, some students graduate in December and participate without obtaining any credit.
Contact: Professor Burdett Loomis
519 Blake Hall