What do Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, experienced Beltway insiders, and national policy makers have in common? They all have the chance to meet civic-minded students participating in the Penn in Washington (PIW) program.
Take, for instance, Louis Lin, C’20. Louis spent last summer as a fellow with the International Leadership Foundation, where he learned how policy making and public service can work for marginalized populations. PIW ensured that he could make the most of this valuable experience. Along with fellow Penn undergrads working in the nation’s capital, Louis had the opportunity to engage closely with the University’s impressive alumni base as well as potential employers beyond his internship. The goal: To give interested students the best possible chance of gaining full-time employment in D.C. postgraduation.
A first-generation, low-income student, Louis may not have initially known how to meet policy advisors, congress members, and alumni in his chosen field. “PIW helped me make those connections,” Louis says.
PIW is divided into two components—a summer program for Penn students interning in Washington, like Louis, and a semester “abroad” during the school year, where students live and learn in the nation’s capital.
During the semester program, students take three hands-on classes with a number of political figures and policy heavyweights. “They learn from the practitioners, the people who have been in the room during major events,” says Dr. Deirdre Martinez, director of the program.
Back in Philadelphia, students still have the chance to engage with Penn’s incredible D.C.-based alumni, who return to campus for lectures, forums, and other events hosted by PIW throughout the year.
Fewer than half of PIW’s participants come from a political science background, with many studying chemistry, business, and urban studies, among other majors. Any student interested in public service is encouraged to get involved. And for students and parents wondering about a potential extra cost to participate in PIW, Martinez asserts, “There isn’t one.” The semester program accepts students’ normal financial aid package, including housing expenses. Events during the summer are free for undergraduates.
Whether students are interning, taking exciting classes, or partaking in valuable networking opportunities, Penn in Washington gives them a way to build relationships, gain practical experience, and learn the importance of public service.
“Because of my involvement with PIW, I know what my options are for a career in government,” says Louis. “And I know I will be a better public servant when I start.”