Centre students get real-world political experience interning in D.C.
Most people wait until after graduating from college to attempt making a change on Capitol Hill. However, several Centre students interning in Washington, D.C., this summer already have a head start.
Ethan Epping ’12 and Brian Klosterboer ’12 spent the first part of their summers as interns in Congressman Ben Chandler’s office in Washington, D.C. Both were recipients of Henry Clay Internships in Public Service, which provided them each a $3,000 stipend to cover the costs of living in the District. The stipend was awarded by the Kentucky Society of Washington.
“We’ve worked for the Congressman for six weeks, doing various tasks, including conducting legislative research, giving tours of the U.S. Capitol building, answering phones, sorting mail, logging faxes, clipping press articles, writing memos and attending committee hearings,” Klosterboer explains.
Epping, a Bonner Scholar, was particularly interested in a political internship as a way to gain insight into policy-making.
“As someone heavily involved with service, I had spent a significant amount of time doing direct service (working in food pantries and organizing service plunges), but I wanted an opportunity to see things on the policy side,” he says.
Through their internships, Epping and Klosterboer have been exposed to the inner workings of political life.
“I’ve written several press releases and speeches that the Congressman delivered in our district. It was so rewarding to write a speech and read all of the news articles picking it apart the next day, as if I were a real politico,” Klosterboer says. “I really felt like I was making a difference and engaging in the big arguments that matter to our constituents.”
Epping has been similarly affected through his internship.
“This taste of political involvement has really opened my eyes to the possibility of working in politics, something which I hadn’t really considered in the past,” he says.
Interning in Washington, D.C., has given Epping and Klosterboer the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the heart of American politics.
“Being on the Hill is working right in the middle of things, and it’s always awesome to read the newspapers and say, ‘Hey, that happened right across the street yesterday!’” Epping says. Klosterboer adds, “D.C. is a great city in which to spend the summer. There is so much history, culture, entertainment and politics all the time.”
Along with the Henry Clay award, Klosterboer also received a Centre Internship Plus stipend for his internship. Through Career Services, Centre Internship Plus gives students the chance to apply for exciting, high-quality internship experiences — sometimes for academic credit — with extra financial support. Students whose internships are approved receive up to $1,500 to help with expenses.
“Without these sources of funding, I probably wouldn’t be able to have this opportunity to live and work in Washington, D.C.,” Klosterboer says. “I have wanted for some time to do a political internship in D.C. and things worked out this summer so that I could finally go.”
Although Epping and Klosterboer complete their internships this week, two more Centre students — Field Broadbent ’13 and Jonathan Pinque ’12 — will fill their positions in Chandler’s office. And if Epping’s and Klosterboer’s experiences are predictors, Broadbent and Pinque will be equally enamored with working on the Hill.
“I now have a much better understanding of how our federal government works, and how best to make my voice heard as a concerned citizen,” Epping says. “Seeing how the opinions of constituents and policy ideas are molded together into practical initiatives has been fascinating.”