Gallaudet’s presence on Capitol Hill is about to become much stronger. On November 11, the Career Center and the Office of the President launched the Capitol Hill Internship Program, an initiative to connect more students with internships in Congress.

The program will help interested students see the American political system in action just a few blocks from the Gallaudet campus by working in a senator or congressional representative’s office on federal, state, and local issues.

“You can understand the concept of how the government works from a book, but actually seeing that applied is a huge benefit,” alumnus Jacob Leffler told the group at an information session.

The idea of having Gallaudet students intern on The Hill is not new. Several students, typically majoring in government, have been able to secure internship positions in the past. Leffler had two Capitol Hill internships during his time at Gallaudet. One was working for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham-Clinton when she was a senator for New York, and the other was working on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for the office of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Rian Norris, a junior history major from Ohio, is now working in the office of Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio). Norris also shared highlights from her experiences with the students, as well as what a typical day might be like for her. Both Leffler and Norris agreed that working on The Hill has been a life-changing experience, and that the contacts they have made will benefit them greatly in the future.

When it comes to looking for career-building opportunities, Norris said,”Don’t limit yourself.” The concept has clearly worked for her. “Now I’m thinking about law school,” she said. “I never thought about law school before.”

The Capitol Hill Internship Program seeks to involve more students by expanding the opportunity to all majors, as well as undeclared students who meet the selection criteria.

Career Center Director Karen Cook and career consultants Daniel Viet and Erin Fisher were on hand to explain details of the application process.

Any currently enrolled Gallaudet student who has completed at least three semesters of academic credit (at least 36 credits) before January 2011 and who has a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better is eligible to apply. The internships typically last for 10 weeks of the semester. While internships are not paid, students may be able to earn academic credit. Students are encouraged to apply for a fall or spring semester internship to capitalize on the greater demand for students during the school year. Another tip is to apply for positions with senators or representatives from their home state.

Students must possess good writing and communication skills, and will be asked to supply faculty references, as well as a letter of recommendation from one faculty member. It is suggested that students complete one semester of an introductory government class prior to their internship to give them a basic knowledge of the workings of the American system of government.

“Think about it,” Cook urged the students. “But don’t think about it for too long! We need to get going.” Applications are due by Friday, December 3.
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