Jean-Phillipe's internship experience on Capitol Hill was critical to his success after college.

I had the pleasure of participating in the Washington Semester Internship as a way to finish my undergraduate course work, and it quite simply changed my life.

I interned for U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, full-time, five days a week. I received firsthand experience while Congress was in session, preparing staffers for hearings and doing research that was used to debate legislation the Congresswoman was trying to pass. I attended a number of briefings and hearings on various matters of great interest to me. Working so closely with some of the people who shape the public policy of the nation was something that I will never forget.

After my internship, I began looking for work and found the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). When I was hired I was told that I received the job primarily because of my internship experience on Capitol Hill. The majority of jobs are looking for students with degrees but also with experience; that is why this internship program was so critical to my success after college.

At the OSP I worked toward getting scholarships for low income families in D.C. to attend private schools (kindergarten-12th grade). Due to the state of the public school system in the D.C. area, the work I did was very important to the future of the youth in our nation’s capital. During my time there, the OSP was a $20 million dollar federally funded program authorized by the SOAR Act–the only piece of legislation that House Speaker John Boehner co-authored during that session in Congress. (It also received bipartisan support through Senators Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein.) While the main author of this legislation may not fall into my particular political beliefs, I saw firsthand how certain legislation can lead to effective federal programs whose impact can transcend partisan politics.

Currently, I am working for the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), helping to administer two federally funded educational programs.

The Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) is designed for high school students and the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) is designed for undergraduate and graduate students. Both programs offer competitive stipends for students to conduct important research at various Department of Navy Laboratories across the nation.

In my short time here, I not only assist students/ parents with the application process for our program, but I handle the recruitment for the two programs as well. I also have been given the responsibility of helping to disburse the stipend payments we give to help fund students’ internships.

Of greatest importance, the Washington Semester Internship Program unequivocally changed my life. I will forever be grateful to Professor Regina Axelrod, Dawn Kelleher, and Adelphi University for their assistance in providing me with this opportunity that served as the catalyst in my professional development.

This piece appeared in the Political Science Newsletter Fall 2013 edition.

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