Dr. Joan Pynes, Professor in the School of Public Affairs, is the faculty liaison to three major internship programs. She strongly believes every student should seriously consider applying for at least one during his or her time at USF.
The Washington Center Internship Program
The Washington Center is a marquee program enabling college students to live and work in the nation’s capital during the fall, spring, or summer semester. Pynes emphasizes that The Washington Center is a wrap-around program, giving students an opportunity to take unique classes with Center faculty, live onsite, develop a self-selected civic engagement project, and work in a professional internship in any one of 1,000 sites in the DC area.
This summer, 24 USF students—a record number—have been accepted into the Washington Center program, but Pynes would like the numbers to grow exponentially. She wants to be certain that students in majors other than Political Science and Public Affairs, who are traditionally more likely to be drawn to a Washington D.C. internship, also take advantage of this enriching experience. There are possibilities for students to work at world-class facilities in any field, including, but not limited to, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Library of Congress, National Geographic, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Amnesty International, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Rock the Vote, or any number of Congressional offices. There are also numerous opportunities for students to attend lectures, take tours, and immerse themselves in the full D.C. experience.
Although some students might be concerned that the program could be cost-prohibitive, the State of Florida provides a tuition reimbursement—the largest of any state that sends students to The Washington Center. Students receive $7,500 off the program costs and a $1,000 stipend toward housing. So, for basically the cost of USF tuition for six credits and approximately $1,755 to live in the Washington Center housing, students can spend an entire semester living in Washington D.C.
Regardless of whether a student has political aspirations or a desire to live in the nation’s capital, a D.C. internship looks impressive on a resume and can help round out their college education by providing an incomparable connection to our governmental system. Such a learning experience, with plenty of networking opportunities, would be useful to students in any occupation they pursue.
Public Policy Internship Programs: LIP/TIP
Students who want an opportunity to learn more about federal, state or local government can apply for either the Legislative Internship Program (LIP) or the Tallahassee Internship Program (TIP). Sixteen years ago, Robin Jones, now retired from the Department of Geography, Environment and Planning, and Kathy Betancourt, former Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations, founded these two programs, available to juniors and seniors through a rigorous application process. Pynes and Angela Crist, Director of the Florida Institute of Government at USF, now oversee the two programs, which grant unique access to the policymaking process.
Students in the LIP program work in the Tampa Bay area in a legislator’s office or with the Tampa Bay partnership. Students work nine hours a week and enroll in Pynes’s Legislative Seminar. They receive four credit hours (2 for the internship and 2 for the seminar). Pynes is trying to diversify the students who participate, because she feels that those who have participated in the process become better advocates on behalf of any organization or citizen group for whom they work. Students who participate receive a $300 scholarship.
Pynes says the experience “reduces cynicism.” In contrast to the partisan infighting we see depicted so frequently in the media, students who participate in LIP “don’t see a lot of ideology.” She continued, “It’s actually a pretty harmonious time in Hillsborough County.”
The TIP program gives students an insider’s view of Florida state politics and public policy, and those selected receive a $3,500 scholarship that goes toward rent and for a potential wardrobe upgrade. Students begin with an eight-week program in January through the end of February where they take the History and Politics of Florida course and then spend the full length of the Florida legislative 60-day session in Tallahassee. Students may intern with an elected official, a lobbying firm, or a professional association.
Students in the TIP program are fully immersed in the legislative process, attend a lecture series with leaders in Florida government, and partake in all of the concomitant social activities associated with the long days of the legislative session. This gives them a first-hand understanding of public policy and civic engagement in action that will likely help shape their worldview.
For Pynes, what is most significant about the two programs beyond the on-the-job preparation is the fact that these internships help students “see that government is here to help.” She continues, “They really have an observation that government is not the enemy.”
For more information about The Washington Center, LIP, or TIP, please contact Dr. Joan Pynes at firstname.lastname@example.org.