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ND students study, intern in D.C.

Davis Rhorer, Jr. | Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Notre Dame Washington Program offers students real-world opportunities in the nation’s capital with its internship opportunities, said Liz LaFortune, the on-campus coordinator for the Program.

“[Students] are signing up for more than just classes,” she said. “The hallmark of the Washington Program is the internship.”

Every student in the program is required to intern in addition to having a regular course workload, LaFortune said.

Fifteen Notre Dame students are currently studying – and interning – in Washington, and 21 are planning to participate next semester.

Former Washington Program interns said their experiences helped prepare them for their future careers.

“The major advantage to being in D.C. is getting a jumpstart on your career” said Julie Opet, a senior who studied in Washington and interned for the Hudson Institute last year.

Senior Mike Laskey said the Program has a “life after college” aspect, which prepares students for submitting résumés and conducting interviews, in addition to establishing connections.

“I came out of the program having a much more precise idea of what I want to do as a career,” senior Laura Brockelman said.

Internship opportunities in Washington are very diverse and flexible, LaFortune said.

“The field is really wide open,” she said. “Students meet with me to determine some places we’ve had really good experiences with and sometimes students propose new places to me.”

Washington students are given a list of about 170 possible internship placements, but they can also come up with their own ideas. The students ultimately apply to eight potential employers.

Past students in the program have interned with the Citizens for Global Solutions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Australian Embassy, the Wilderness Society and Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Kerry, LaFortune said.

The program, which began 10 years ago, accepts sophomores and juniors from any major and college. Roughly half of the students participating in the program pursue fields associated with political science. Other popular majors are American Studies and Sociology.

Each student takes a core course on public policy and chooses from electives ranging from the philosophy of law to the arts in America, LaFortune said.

Students live together in the same neighborhood and study together under Notre Dame professors, she said.

Despite students’ diverse interests, both moderators and former students in the Program agree that a feeling of community is formed in Washington.

“We all become a family,” Opet said.

The application deadline for participating in 2008-09 is January 23, 2008.