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Summer Internship Could Lead Students to a Future in Politics
Summer internship program in Washington D.C. allows students first-hand experience in politics.

December 1, 2005
By Mimi Ko Cruz

Though it is possible to become a successful politician without having any experience in the political arena, it’s not easy or common.

College degrees and hands-on experience are the more practical means of preparing for a career in politics. That’s why Cal State Fullerton now offers an internship program in Washington, D.C.

Phillip L. Gianos, chair and professor of political science, and Stephen J. Stambough, assistant professor of political science, are heading the six-week program, which is set to begin in summer 2006. Students chosen to participate will live in dormitories at George Washington University; work at the office of a politician — such as Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) or Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) — or other offices like the White House; and take a legislative policies class that Stambough will teach.

“We’ve had students who have gone to D.C. on their own, arranging their own internships,” Gianos said. “And we’ve always had local political internships, so we began to think about this D.C. internship program as a really good opportunity for our students.”

Alumni contributions and a budget of $20,000 from a University Mission and Goals Initiative will help underwrite student internship expenses. The cost for housing, meals, airfare and enrollment in the internship and class — a total of six units — is estimated at $2,475 for an undergraduate student and $2,535 for a graduate student.

“This is a really great opportunity,” said Gianos, who added that many of his former students who did their own internships in Washington, D.C., were offered jobs. Besides, “it’s a really nifty item on the resume.”

Any Cal State Fullerton upper-division or graduate student is eligible to apply. Some of the activities they can expect to participate in include assisting with organizing and giving guided tours of the capitol; helping legislative staff with research for congressional hearings, briefings, speeches and interviews; attending free writing workshops; observing meetings between representatives, senators, various constituents, interest groups and international leaders; and listening to guest lecturers, such as the secretaries of state and defense and other high-profile officials.

“An internship serves as an experience, a great way to network and get your foot in the door,” said Evelyn Garcia, a graduate student who received her bachelor’s degree in political science in 2003. She is a field representative for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California).

Garcia said she heard about her job through a contact she made when she participated in a similar Washington, D.C., fellowship two years ago.

“A program like this new internship opens doors,” she said. “It can really prepare students for everything from living in D.C. to learning what kinds of political jobs they will be doing.”

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