Our IU Internship in Politics, Opportunity, Leadership, Social Entrepreneurship (IU POLS DC) is a semester-long residential internship program in Washington, D.C. The program’s goal is to give students solid liberal arts education while providing them with valuable career preparation. The program provides 12 hours of IU credit, including 6 hours of credit for an internship and two IU Political Science courses taught at the Willard Building on Pennsylvania Ave. The program also provides students with an authentic DC-living experience in a charming townhome only blocks from the Supreme Court, the House, and Senate.
PolsNews: DC Internship
Our Internship Coordinator, Dr. Christine Barbour, describes the most recent Spring 2020 experience, “Last February, our second class of IU POLS DC interns settled into their roles in Washington, finding their feet in offices on Capitol Hill and in research and advocacy groups, building networks, loving the city and its monuments. A great networking evening at the Willard on the 13th saw more than 50 area political science alums come together to catch up and share their experience with the future alums now interning in DC. Alumna Katy Wall, the chief of staff at the newly organized Space Force, invited the class for a tour of the East Wing of the White House and Old Executive Office Building on the 28th, and had asked several IU alumni who work in the building to come meet us as well.”
Unfortunately, the Spring 2020 cohort faced unprecedented challenges. Dr. Barbour continues, “The COVID-19 pandemic started to sweep the country and eventually, it swept the interns back home to Indiana – even the stalwart few who tried to hang on until the end.” While their time was cut short, Dr. Barbour also notes the invaluable lessons and experiences that students were still able to take with them. One of those was then-junior James Bassett, a cloakroom intern for Speaker Pelosi. Basset optimistically notes, “Interning for Speaker Pelosi while Congress navigated the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for effective leadership, clear communication, and diplomacy in response to a sudden crisis. Speaker Pelosi’s skilled leadership and crisis management inspired me to seek opportunities to serve the public after I graduate from IU.”
Kiki Lin, a junior last spring, also found her internship at the National Immigration Forum rewarding, even though it was cut short. She explains, “I used my knowledge in immigration and racial politics every day in my work in immigration advocacy. This internship taught me even more about immigration and racial politics, which further motivates me to continue my education and attend law school to specialize in immigration law.”
IU POLS DC intended to run a trial fall 2020 program to expand the number of students to which the opportunity to study in DC could be offered each year. While going that fall became impractical for COVID-related reasons, all the fall interns were able to be moved into the spring 2021 program. Dr. Barbour states, “We are crossing our fingers for a return to relative normality soon, so that next year’s students can have the same amazing experiences that last years’ had.”