Students find valuable internship experience in Washington, D.C.

Drury University’s partnership with a Washington, D.C., organization has been giving students the chance to complete high-profile internships for decades.

The Washington Center allows undergrads to live in the nation’s capital, gain professional work experience and receive class credit to stay on track for graduation. Drury has been working with The Washington Center for about 30 years and typically sends three or four students a year.

Dr. Dan Ponder, professor of political science and Drury liaison for The Washington Center, encourages all majors to consider this program.

“Students coming from a liberal arts school like Drury have great critical thinking skills, the ability to adapt, and are sensitive to the world outside their major,” Ponder says. “That serves them well for their internship. Whether you’re in theater, business, communications, political science, etc., you will be matched at an internship site that works for you and you’ll get an invaluable experience from working in a city like D.C.”

In the past, students have interned with lobbying firms, finance companies, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, nonprofits in the area, and more. Others have worked directly with members of Congress.

Students interested in The Washington Center submit an application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and receive approval from the university’s program liaison. Students also submit an interest form to the Center, which is used to match them with potential internship sites in D.C. During the fall and spring semesters, students pay Drury tuition, housing costs, and an administrative fee, but all scholarships and loans still apply. Students room with other undergrads at the Center who come from colleges across the country.

Mai Baldwin, a senior international political studies and French major, spent Spring 2014 at the Washington Center and interned with the Wilson Center. She extended her D.C. stay and interned at the Aspen Institute over the summer.

Mai Baldwin

Mai Baldwin

During the spring, Baldwin was enrolled in 12 upper division hours through Drury. She also attended academic and leadership seminars during her stay.

Baldwin, who hopes to attend law school after graduation, focused on students’ access to higher education during her time at the Center. She even brought back a workshop to Drury that helps students study for the LSAT free of charge, a concept modeled off a nonprofit in D.C.

“After the spring, I ended up with a summer job offer because of my work during the semester,” Baldwin says. “It really shows that if you’re diligent, put yourself out there and meet new people, opportunities will come. I had a lot of personal development from being outside of my comfort zone and it gave me a different perspective of the world.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury.