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Ithaca Interns Get Experience Inside the Beltway

Written by Alyssa Richard
3/5/2009

Ithaca interns get experience inside the Beltway.

Every semester, Ithaca College sends students to Washington, D.C., for the Washington Semester Program. The program is designed for juniors and seniors of all majors and offers meaningful internships as its core opportunity. Students earn credit for their internship experience while taking academic courses to maintain a normal course load.

While a Monday-through-Thursday internship on top of academics may sound daunting, students who participated in the program last fall say they had great experiences.

Journalism major Tristan Fowler '09 noted “the amazing integration of work and fun” while on the job in Washington.

Tristan interned at the Center for American Progress where he was responsible for blogging about issues in science progress. He especially appreciated the way he was treated on the job: like a real staff member. These are not get-coffee-and-make-a-copy internships; they involve real work and real responsibilities. “It felt great doing something worthwhile,” Tristan said.

Students who are accepted into the program work with Dr. Deborah Curry, the Washington program director, to tailor their internships to their background, interests, and level of experience. Curry helps IC students get great on-the-job experience -- and have loads of fun -- without worrying about making up credits or classes when they get back to Ithaca.

Students have interned at places like MSNBC, Make a Wish Foundation, Amnesty International, National Public Radio, and The Washington Post. Others have even worked directly with big names in the city, including Hilary Clinton, Solomon Ortiz, and the United States attorney general.

Journalism and politics major Erika Spaet '09 interned with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked directly with the public policy coordinator on the National Prison Project.

Spaet was responsible for reading prisoner mail and writing and designing a journal for prisoners. She attended hearings on Capitol Hill once or twice a week and sat in on meetings of the Senate, House, and Judiciary Committee.

She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to see how nonprofits are run; the experience has allowed her to gain a greater understanding of the path she wants to take. But of course, its not all work and no play. “Washington D.C. is very much a young person's city, and a really fun place to be. There are so many interns and plenty of things to do.”

Like what? Touring the monuments, checking out cheap eats, visiting museums and galleries, seeing concerts, and networking up a storm!

Visit the link at right for photos of Erika and other Ithaca interns spending a semester in Washington!



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