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Program offers political internships in D.C.

Irena Zajickova | Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Students in Notre Dame’s Washington Program have a unique opportunity to work at political internships in an election year while taking Notre Dame courses.

Liz LaFortune, the Assistant Director of the Washington Program, says that one of the benefits of the Program is that it aids students in their search for a job. “Notre Dame students who participate in the Program are exposed to advocacy groups, policy makers, think tanks, legislators, and political leaders that help broaden their understanding of what a career in politics might mean for them,” she said.

“They make contacts that they often maintain well beyond the end of the semester,” LaFortune said.

This semester, students are interning with a variety of organizations, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Australian Embassy, and the Financial Services Forum.

The structure of the Washington program combines traditional coursework with an extracurricular internship. Students take a six-credit “Foundations of Public Policy” seminar, which teaches the essential ideas that define public policy in the United States. The seminar is supplemented by an internship with a government, cultural, non-profit, or media organization.

As part of the seminar, students are required to attend weekly public policy visits. So far this semester, students have visited the United States Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, and the Democratic and Republican National Committee Headquarters. They have also attended a presidential election forum and a lobbyist forum.

Students find the Program’s courses satisfying. “The classes are really interesting and make good use of the unique setting,” junior Thomas Dybicz said. “They aren’t like classes at Notre Dame.”

Junior Kevin Sherrin is so satisfied with his decision to study in Washington this semester that he advises other Notre Dame students to consider the Program. “When Notre Dame extends you the opportunity to join the Washington Program, jump on it,” he said.