By Amanda Alexander
If there’s one thing junior David Cummings learned about government work from his internship last semester, it’s that there’s always something that needs to be done.
Cummings interned full time in the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee under Representative Mike Hanna and said that there was no “typical day” during his internship because “it always varies.” He was one of five interns chosen for the Legislative Fellowship Program, a paid internship that required working Monday-Friday, 9-5.
He found himself with different duties each day ranging from in-depth research to talking with constituents about their concerns to attending workshops and committee meetings.
Cummings was able to learn many new things throughout his internship, and was involved in many projects that will affect constituents.
“Being able to draft and prepare your own legislation was one of the core requirements,” he explained. “You get to act as a legislator for the day. It was very rewarding.”
The group of interns was also able to spend a day with the attorney general as a part of a workshop they attended, which Cummings said was the most exciting thing he got to do as an intern.
One of the most important things Cummings said he learned from the internship experience was “a better sense of professionalism.” He also added, “I developed better research skills,” which will be vital for a future career in government work.
One of the most useful aspects of the program was the guidance students received from their supervisors. Cummings was required to report to his supervisor daily.
“She’d provide me with advice if I got stumped,” he said. Supervisors would also look over his written work and critique it.
Networking was one of the most important things that Cummings gained from his internship, as he wants to work in the federal government after graduating from LHU and possibly pursuing a master’s in political management.
“I still want to pursue the same goals, but it’s definitely opened the doors for connections in the future,” he said.
Cummings feels that an internship is incredibly valuable to any student who intends to get a job after college.
“The rewards you’ll get are pretty much endless,” he said.
However, he added some additional advice: “Take it seriously. Be professional. It can play a huge role in who you may meet. Focus and appreciate the opportunity.”
By Amanda Alexander
Money. It’s something everyone thinks about, especially during the current economic conditions. Everyone watches the news and waits to see what changes are being made to the government’s budget and how it will affect us.
One LHU student got to spend a semester working within the government and seeing firsthand how budgets are developed.
Christopher Welker, senior, spent his fall semester as an intern with Pennsylvania’s Office of the Budget, which, according to its website, “is responsible for preparing the Governor’s annual budget and implementing it after it is passed by the General Assembly and the Governor signs it into law.”
Welker found this opportunity by talking to a professor about it. He applied for, and was placed in, The Harrisburg Internship Semester program, or THIS.
Welker worked full time and received nine credits for the internship. He also received a stipend which helped pay for his expenses.
“The internship program places you within state government,” Welker explained. As a political science major, Welker was interested especially in the economic aspect of government. The internship was particularly relevant to him because it impacted his two main interests, politics and funding.
“It dealt with political issues on the funding side of things,” he said. “I’m interested in tax policy.”
A typical day was mostly spent doing research for presentations that he would later sit in on.
“It was a lot of Excel worksheets,” Welker said. “It wasn’t the most exciting thing, but I definitely know how to use Excel better now.”
His hard work also paid off toward the end of his internship, as he was able to go from just observing meetings with the secretaries of budget to interacting and making contributions during the meetings.
“I was more confident then, and I had information that I didn’t have before,” he said.
One of the most exciting aspects of his internship was for Welker to be able to talk one-on-one with Thomas Wolf, Pennsylvania’s former secretary of revenue.
THIS chooses one intern per semester from each school in the state system and then places the interns in different governmental programs. Welker’s favorite part of the internship was “interacting with the other interns and the people within my department.”
Another responsibility Welker had as part of the program was working on a research paper which he turned in at the end of his internship. “It was a little rush to get the paper done,” he said, but he was allowed to work on it during slow periods. The paper had a required length of 30 pages, and Welker chose to write about budget issues, specifically the funding of transportation.
“It’s something that I found while reading over a bill,” Welker said. “It had economic aspects that I was interested in.”
Welker said one of the most valuable rewards of his internship was having lots of opportunities to speak in front of an audience. “My public speaking abilities definitely improved while I was there,” he said.
During his internship, he had an opportunity to apply the things he learned in his classes.
“Topics that I heard about during the internship had come up in class before,” he said, citing the Marcellus Shale issues as an example.
While he said the internship didn’t change his future career choice, it did help him focus it a bit more.
“I probably want to steer clear from civil servant jobs. You can’t get political if you’re a civil servant,” he said. This is one of the many things he learned from his internship during a speech.
Welker advised that any student who wants to have a great internship should be open to anything, even if it doesn’t directly relate to the career they are hoping for.
“Don’t be afraid to try new ideas and go to different kinds of meetings. Don’t be afraid to grasp new opportunities if you’re offered,” he said.