Internships in City Government: Reflections on Civic Learning

Download PDF

During the Fall of 2017 I had the opportunity to spend the semester in Washington DC with 16 Wake Forest students.  I taught two political science courses on law and policy, and the students interned four days a week with various governmental and non-governmental organizations.

In an earlier post I wrote about the potential for internships to provide important civic lessons as well as providing the development of professional skills and experience. Two of the students worked for Councilwoman Mary Cheh on the DC Council,  giving them the unique opportunity to experience local government in the unusual context of the national capital.  I asked Abigail McLean (pictured above) one of those students, to reflect on her experience.  Abigail, who will graduate in May, was recently hired by Councilwoman Cheh’s office to serve on her staff.

  What interested you about this particular internship opportunity?

Abigail: The year before my internship at the D.C. Council, I interned for a congressional office on Capitol Hill. I really enjoyed this experience, but one of the things that frustrated me was the speed at which legislation moved. I could spend several days working on a project, only to never see or hear anything about it again because it simply takes so long to move legislation through. Since the D.C. Council is a smaller governing body in charge of a much smaller jurisdiction, I knew that I could contribute more to the legislative process and experience more firsthand.

Continue Reading

Internships: A job? A civic experience? Maybe some of both.

Download PDF

This semester I have relocated to Washington DC in order to lead the first semester of our new Wake Washington program. My 16 students are all placed in internships across the city in national and city government, think tanks, non-profits, and consulting firms. They are also taking a course on policymaking and another one on constitutional law. Five weeks into the semester, I thought it might be interesting to reflect on the value of internships both for students and for the organizations that sponsor them, with particular attention to the kind of civic learning students gain from the experience.

Often, the emphasis on internships and in internship programs is more focused on  Continue Reading