Washington Internship Program

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Since 2000, the American Studies Department has sent 64 students on a unique program which provides a 7-week placement in the US Congress. Students work full-time in the office of a member of the United States Senate or the US House of Representatives. The program provides an opportunity, unparalleled in Australasia, to experience political life in Washington DC.

Text of Washington Internship Program

  • Flinders University

    WashingtonInternshipProgram

    An opportunity to work on Capitol Hill as part of an undergraduate or honours degree.

    AMST3016AMST701-

    inspiring achievement

  • Meet the organisers...

    Don DeBats is Professor and Head of American Studies at Flinders University, South Australia. As a scholar of United States history and h^He has taught in the Department of Government at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and is a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson /^E,h^s&,the University of Virginia. ,h^ht&h

    CharlDEWW, an h^Launched in January 2007,W ,timpact.

    &E:WCharles is a graduate of Catholic University and :American University.

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    AmericanStudieshasanunmatchedinternship

    program.WorkinginthecongressoftheUSwasawonderfulexperiencethatleavesanindeliblemark.PrindonSadriu(2006),RepDanaRohrabacher

    WhyapplyforthisProgram?

    TheWashingtonInternshipProgram,organisedbyProfessorDonDeBatsatFlindersUniversity,isuniqueamongstthecourseofferingsofAustralianuniversities.SuccessfulapplicantstotheProgramareplacedininstitutionsassociatedwiththenationalgovernmentoftheUnitedStatesforsevenweeks.ThemostfrequentplacementsareinofficesofUnitedStatesSenatorsorRepresentatives;placementsarealsoavailablewithCongressionalcommittees,publicpolicyorganisationsandcorporategovernmentaffairsoffices.TheProgramenjoystheenthusiasticsupportoftheUSEmbassyinCanberraandtheAustralianEmbassyinWashington.TheInternshipisatransformativeinternationalexperience.NoamountofnewsviewingortextbookreadingcanmatchtherealityofworkingintheofficeofamemberoftheUnitedStatesSenateorHouseofRepresentatives,observingatfirsthandpoliticaldecisionmakingintheUnitedStates.Sinceitsfoundingyearin2000,theProgramhassent64InternstoworkintheUSCongress.ItsalumnisharetheorganisersenthusiasmfortheWashingtonInternshipProgram,asalifechangingexperience.InternsreturntoAustraliawithadeepknowledgeofpoliticallifeinaglobalpoliticalcentreofpower.ThisProgramprovidesanopportunitytobeanAustralianambassadorparexcellence.OftenInternsreturnwithaletterfromthehostCongressmanorSenatorattestingtotheirperformance.ThatletterwillalwaysformanimportantpartofthatInternsprofessionalresume.TheWashingtonInternshipProgramoperatesintheAustraliansummer(andtheWashingtonwinter!)withstudentsstartingtheirInternshiponCapitolHillinearlyJanuaryandfinishinginthethirdweekinFebruary.TheoverallexperienceincludesresidinginsharedaccommodationonCapitolHillandstudentsmaytravelindependentlyaftertheProgramconcludes,withinthetermsofthevisa.In2005,AustralianNationalUniversityaskedtojointheFlindersProgramandnowsendsitsownwellpreparedstudentstoWashingtonaspartofthisjointuniversityeffort.TheaimoftheInternshipistoallowstudentsalreadyknowledgeableaboutAmericansociety,politics,historyandculturetoexperiencetherealityofpoliticallifeinthecentralinstitutionsofAmericannationalgovernment.TherequirementsfortheProgram,anditscarefulselectionprocedure,reflectthelevelofprofessionalismandknowledgeexpectedofitsparticipants.Thisisasmall,selectiveandhighlyvisibleProgram.However,anystudentwithmotivationanddeterminationwhomeetstheprerequisitescansucceedasaWashingtonIntern.HowtoapplyTheWashingtonInternshipProgramisa9unittopicatFlindersUniversity.Itsprerequisitesare18unitsoftopicsthatmakeuptheAmericanStudiesmajorandmustincludeAMST2002:AmericanPoliticsand/orPOLI3011:PeopleandPolitics,AComparativeStudyofAustralia,CanadaandtheUnitedStates(seewww.flinders.edu.au/courses/transition/undergrad/majors/sabsamst.cfm).The18unitsmustbecompletedbeforetheInterndepartsforWashington.TheserequirementsreflectthelevelofbackgroundknowledgerequiredtoperformsuccessfullyintheWashingtonInternshipProgram.FlindersstudentsacceptedintotheProgramwillbesenttoworkaspoliticalprofessionalsandcolleaguesinanintenseatmosphereofpartisanandbipartisandecisionmaking.ACapitolHillofficeisnoplaceforaneophyteinAmericanpoliticallife.Admissionisbyapplicationonlyandiscompetitive.Applicationsaretobesubmittedinhardcopyandelectronically(USB),usuallyinearlyAugust.Theapplicationformcanbefoundat:Hwww.flinders.edu.au/sabs/americanstudies/internship/links.cfmH

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    BeinggiventheopportunitytoworkonCapitolHillmademerealisehowinterestingtheworldofpoliticscanbe.WashingtonisdefinitelythebestplacetobeifyouwanttolearneverythingyoucanaboutAmericanpolitics.Ifeltsoprivilegedtobeabletoworkalongsidesomeofthegreatestpolicymakersin

    theUnitedStates.KateMelrose(2007),SenatorJohnSununu.

    Whatistheselectioncommitteelookingfor?TheInternshipisapositionoftrustandsignificantresponsibility.Theselectioncommittee,madeupofProfessorDeBats,MrSlatteryandMrMahtesian,takesparticularaccountoftheapplicantsStatementofInterest,resume,andlettersofrecommendation.TheselectioncommitteelooksforevidencethatyouwillsucceedintheInternship;thatis,arehighlycommittedtoitandhavethebackgroundknowledgeandpersonalattributesandskillsnecessarytosucceedinacongressionaloffice.WashingtonworksonthebasisofinformationanditisimportantthatanyoneapplyingfortheprogramiswellinformedaboutAmericanpoliticsandpoliticalculture.TheselectioncommitteewillbeinterestedinhowtheInternshipfitsinwithyourcareerplansandwilllookforevidenceofyourrelevantexperienceandmaturity.WhatwillIbedoinginWashington?SuccessfulapplicantstotheWashingtonInternshipProgramworkaspoliticalprofessionals.StudentsapplyingforadmissiontotheProgramlistthreepreferredareasofpolicyorpartisaninterest;everyeffortismadetomatchstudentinterestwiththeinterestoftheofficesofferingplacements,butprospectiveInternsarenotpermittedtorejectplacements.OfficesofmembersoftheUSSenateandHouseofRepresentativesdesignateastaffmembertoberesponsibleforallInternsinthatoffice.CongressionalofficesroutinelyhostUSinternsduringtheNorthAmericansummer;thatsameopportunityisavailablefortheFlindersInternsarrivingintheNorthernHemispherewinter.InternsupervisorsaremadeawareoftheuniquefeaturesoftheFlindersUniversityWashingtonInternshipProgram,namelytherequirementtoproduceamajorresearchpaperarisingfromtheInternship.ThesubjectofthemajorpaperwillbeworkedoutbytheIntern,ProfessorDeBatsandtheInternssupervisor.ThecongressionalofficeinternsupervisorsetsthedailytasksfortheFlindersIntern.ThewidestgoaloftheInternshipistoexperiencepoliticallifeinaninfluentialcongressionalofficeandmanytaskswillreflecttheprioritiesandpressuresofthatoffice.Itfollowsthatnotalltaskssetwillberelevanttothemajorpaper,butthatisthenatureoftheinternshipexperience.InternsparticipatingintheProgramareurgedtoremaininclosecontactwithProfessorDeBatstoensurethatbothworkassignmentsandthedevelopmentofthemajorpaperproceedsmoothly.PreparationAsetofbackgroundbriefingswillbeorganisedforstudentsacceptedintotheWashingtonInternshipProgram.ThiswillculminateinaformalBriefingSessioninNovembertowhichparentsandpartnersareinvited.ThissessionisavideoconferenceinvolvingdiplomaticrepresentativesoftheAustralianandUnitedStatesgovernmentsandrepresentativesofFlindersUniversity.Allpresentersareavailableduringthisvideoconferencetoanswerquestionsfromstudents,partnersandparents.Whatwillmyofficeexpectofme?SincetheWashingtonInternshipProgramsinceptionin2000,FlindersUniversityInternsworkingintheUSCongresshaveestablishedanenviablereputationfortheirinitiative,enthusiasm,knowledgeandprofessionalism.Youroffice,yoursupervisorandtheorganisersoftheProgramwillexpectfromyouthesamestandardsofexcellenceinthesefourkeyattributes,aswellasarespectforconfidentiality.YourofficeandtheFlindersWashingtonInternshipProgramorganisersexpectyoutoseekoutandtakeadvantageofanyprofessionalopportunityavailabletoyou.TheInternshipwillnotbeasuccessifyouwaitforthingstohappenorinvitationstobeextendedtoyou.Sometimesthetasksassigned

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    Icannotdescribethefeelingofwalkingalongthemallat

    night,lookingupattheCapitolandknowingthatIhadworkedtowardsanimportantforeignpolicyobjectiveduringtheday.JessicaWinnall(2006),SenatorJohnSununu.

    mayberoutineandmundane.MuchofthesuccessofyourInternshipwilldependonhowyourespondtothesesituationsandwhatyoumakeofopportunitiesthatarise,oftenquitesuddenly.StudentsneedtoexerciseconsiderableinitiativeandenthusiasmtoensuretheyderivethemaximumpotentialoftheirWashingtonexperience.Programorganisersareavailablefordiscussionshould,overaprolongedperiod,thetasksnotalignwiththeoverallobjectivesoftheWashingtonInternshipProgram.YoumustgotoWashingtonfullyinformed:intheatmosphereofCapitolHill,knowledgeispower.ThisnecessityisreflectedinthespecifictopicprerequisitesestablishedforparticipationintheWashingtonInternshipProgram.Youwillbeexpectedtoparticipatefullyinthetasksassignedtoyoubyyourcongressionalofficesupervisor.YouwillbeexpectedtobeintheofficeallworkingdaysduringtheInternship.Yourconductmustatalltimesbeprofessional,intermsofbothdressandattitude.PunctualityandcourtesyareabidingrulesofCapitolHill.AsanIntern,youalsowillbeexpectedtorespectallmattersofsecurityandconfidentialityestablishedbyyouroffice.Youmustnotspeaktothemediaaboutanymatterinyourofficewithoutformalauthorisationfromyourofficesupervisor.AmeaningfulmeasureofthesuccessofpastInternsinupholdingthesestandardsisthattheAustralianEmbassyinWashingtonorganisesaformalreceptioninhonouroftheFlindersUniversityandANUWashingtonInternseachyear.ThistypeofrecognitionisvitaltothecontinuedsuccessoftheProgram.

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    Youseehowallthetheoreticalideasyoutalkaboutintutorialsactuallyplayoutintherealworld.TomSchinckel(2011),

    RepLynnWestmoreland

    Itwasoneofthemostshapingexperiencesofmy

    lifetodate.AlisonCupper(2003),RepJamesClyburn

    AssessmentTheWashingtonInternshipisthecapstoneoftheAmericanStudiesmajoratFlindersUniversity.StudentswillbeengagedfulltimeintheirhostofficeinWashingtonfortheentireperiodoftheinternship.WhileinWashington,Internspursueaprojectofinteresttothecongressionalofficeandtothemselves;theresulting6,000wordpaperformsthecoreassessmentforthistopicandmakesup85%ofthefinalgrade.Toensurethatthecompleteassessmentforthetopicdoesnotrestonasinglepieceofwork,Internsretur