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Huskies on the Hill

May 20, 2015

U.S. CapitolNIU students will have the opportunity to test their political acumen on Capitol Hill this summer as part of NIU’s Washington D.C. Congressional Internship program.

Four students were selected as interns for Illinois representatives in their D.C. congressional offices, and will live, learn and work in the nation’s capital.

Kiranjit Gill, a senior majoring in political science, will intern for U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (8th District); Rachel Jacob, a sophomore majoring in political science, will intern for U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (2nd District); Joe Palmer, a senior majoring in political science, will intern for U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (14th District); and Brandon Phillips, a senior majoring in history, will intern for U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (16th District).

“There is no better way to learn how the U.S. Congress works and to gain first-hand knowledge of current policy and political debates then to spend time on the hill interning for a member of Congress,” said April Clark, professor in the Department of Political Science.

Since 2009, Northern Illinois University has been providing students with a summer congressional internship program in Washington, D.C. This highly competitive program allows students to live, learn, and work in the heart of the nation’s capital from late May through early August.

Selected students intern for a member of the Illinois congressional delegation and receive a $6,000 scholarship to cover the cost of housing and some living expenses.

“This program helps students defray the costs of an expensive internship,” said Matthew Streb, chair of the Department of Political Science. “It gives them the experience that they need if they want to work in Washington permanently.”

April Clark

April Clark

Streb said it’s very difficult to work on the Hill after graduation without having completed an internship. In turn, it’s very difficult for most students to go to D.C. – one of the costliest cities in the country – and take an unpaid internship.

Clark shared the sentiment.

“This program provides an opportunity that most college students never experience,” Clark said. “In fact, the success of the program is demonstrated in the seven previous congressional internship alumni who are now working in D.C.”

Streb said the Huskies working in D.C. are a testament to the program’s success, and it’s something that makes him proud.

“We talk a lot about student career success and making the connections and networking opportunities needed,” Streb said. “This program really does that.”

In addition, Miki Grace, a junior majoring in political science, will intern for Congresswoman Kelly as part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation internship program. The foundation provides housing as well as a $3,000 stipend for qualified students.

by Jane Donahue