Imagine appearing on CNN in an interview with a political heavy-weight like Dick Cheney, working on classified projects for the Department of Homeland Security, or going behind the scenes of a foreign embassy. These opportunities and more have presented themselves to Ball State students participating in internships through The Washington Center.
"I think students automatically think D.C. and worry that they may not be interested in political careers here. But The Washington Center is showing me there are so many more opportunities beyond political internships," says Allison Schlaeger, a 2013 intern through the Washington Center. "Through the center, I have had the chance to meet with my Congressional representative, visit embassies and connect with experienced professionals in many different fields. I feel much less nervous about transitioning into the working world."
Schlaeger's internship finds her working for an organization called the Sindhi American Political Action Committee, an advocacy group on behalf of this ethnic group in Pakistan and the Sindhi diaspora. A political science and French double major, she will graduate from Ball State in spring 2013.
For more than 30 years, Ball State has been sending students to The Washington Center, an educational institution that works with colleges across the country to place their students in internships in the nation's capital. With Ball State's strategic efforts to recruit high-achieving students, the number of our undergraduates participating in the competitive program has surged in recent years.
During his three months interning for the Department of Interior's Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and Reclamation Enforcement, Kevin Williams conducted research, created reports, monitored surveys and wrote letters to House and Senate members.
"I was able to meet several high level employees from OSM and other agencies within the Department of Interior while being able to witness the government at work regarding policy and enforcement," says the junior natural resources major. "These relationships will be beneficial as I take my next steps to employment in the natural resources field."
As Ball State's Washington Center liaison, Barb Stedman oversees the application process and helps students receive academic credit at Ball State with their respective departments. Washington Center interns typically earn 12 credit hours during a regular semester, or six hours during the summer. Stedman says students interested in The Washington Center should consider applying for fall or spring terms when positions are less competitive and scholarship and financial aid opportunities are more available.
Schlaeger said it is going to be hard to leave her internship at The Washington Center. "I really love living here. It sounds cheesy, but the city is alive. There is always something to see or somewhere to go. I have been lucky to be a part of many huge events that will stay with me for years to come. I really love being in a city with so much to offer."