UMass College of Social & Behavioral Sciences launches “SBS in DC” program to make policy internships accessible
In a room with a stunning view of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, SBS Dean John Hird announced an exciting new program to a room packed with DC area alumni on January 17th. The program, dubbed SBS in DC, would launch in the summer of 2018 and connect current students with high quality internships and alumni in the nation’s capitol while also providing them with funding to cover their housing costs.
SBS in DC is a culmination of several of the UMass College of Social & Behavioral Science’s missions: preparing students for life after UMass; connecting them with excellent opportunities outside of the classroom; and increasing the affordability and accessibility of high quality programs for students with financial need. The program also taps into the ever-present need to bring more youthful involvement into the political landscape.
“We believe it’s absolutely critical for young people to get involved – especially now – in politics and policy at all levels,” emphasized Hird at the DC event.
“Our country needs more good, smart people in leadership roles – the kind of leaders our SBS students have the skills and societal understanding to become,” adds Carol Sharick, Director of SBS Career and Professional Development. “SBS in DC has the potential to become a pipeline from UMass to our nation’s capitol that will have long lasting impact.”
The involvement of alumni is also a critical one for SBS in DC. There can be no better mentors for UMass students than the alumni who have shared in the undergraduate experience at the flagship campus in Amherst. “A great benefit of the program is this connection with alumni who are actually doing the things the students are learning about in the classroom. That connection between theory and practice is priceless,” says Rebecca Bell, Assistant Director of SBS Career and Professional Development.
In this pilot year, 5-7 students will be selected and connected to a number of internship possibilities. They might, for example, work with Congressman Jim McGovern, work in a political PR firm, or be placed in a political advocacy organization.
While there, SBS will cover housing costs at the Washington Intern Student Housing on Capitol Hill. The college will also pay for one academic credit for the internship, and provide additional funding to cover travel to DC, food, a metro card, and more depending on financial need.
The program was developed through the SBS Office of Career and Professional Development. To fully prepare students for the experience, they will be providing mandatory trainings on topics such as networking, policy and legislative preparation, professional etiquette, and more. They will also be holding info sessions and drop-in hours about SBS in DC (see schedule below). The program will also incorporate other opportunities in DC, such as an alternative spring break experience in March, which will also be free for selected students.