D.C. internship proveds unique experience for students

Like many Gannon University students, senior history major Eli Coppock was searching for an internship.

After hearing about The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, he decided to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., becoming one of seven students from Gannon to work with the organization.

After he filled out his application, all he had to do was wait, and the center would find him an internship, no matter how long it took.

As a history major, Coppock wanted to find an internship in an international relations program. And he did.

He was placed at The Peace Alliance, a non profit organization that promotes the empowerment of a culture of peace.

During Coppock’s internship he scheduled meetings, met with members of both the Senate and House of Representatives and worked on building and discussing his resume.

“I learned how organizations go through the organization process,” Coppock said.

Kathleen Reagan, a communications teacher and representative for the center, spoke to Gannon students Thursday to promote the center.

“You’re not just the person getting coffee – you actually learn stuff,” she said.

Once Coppock accepted his placement, he could move to Washington and take residency in the center’s fully furnished housing. Coppock was placed in the center’s residential and academic facility.

“[The housing] is better than D.C.’s,” Coppock said.

Roughly 800 students participate in the program during the summer, 350 to 470 in the fall and spring semesters and many more go abroad to the program’s locations in London and Sydney.

To be accepted to the internship program students must have a 2.75 GPA, be at least a sophomore and complete the online application and documentation.

Interns work 4 1/2 days a week, and have the opportunity to take a seminar that lasts from a few days to as long as two weeks in length.

The center provides different seminars each semester. Reagan highlighted two: one will cover the presidential primary and upcoming race and the second will focus on the National Conventions. Both seminars will take students inside Washington.

In late August or early September, Gannon will be partnering with the center to hold a seminar on the Republican National Convention. The three-day seminar will give students the opportunity to work on determining who the next Republican presidential candidate will be.

Students can choose from a selection of 50 classes in the summer and 35 in the fall and spring that are offered by the center. Coppock said he took peace and social justice and international human rights, earning 12 credits by the time he finished the semester.

All the classes are full-semester. They are equivalent to those at Gannon, Reagan said.

Cheryl Rink, assistant director for Gannon’s Center for Experimental Education who works with students on internships and co-ops said, “It is set up so it is a seamless process.”

Taking an internship at the center means that the student is still enrolled at Gannon. The credits are divided between classes and the internship. Some students have even taken online courses at the same time in order to graduate on time.

“Any financial aid would apply to the cost of the program,” Rink said, “but you would still need to work with the financial aid office.”

The internships are not paid monetarily, but students are being paid in academic credit, Reagan said. Certain positions may be paid, though, such as those in the sciences.

The center’s unique combination of classes, seminars and work experience provides an avenue for students to get ahead, as it did for Coppock, and to explore their future career choices.

“The opportunities [at the center] are limitless,” Reagan said.


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