By Lea Shores
Staff reporter

If you have ever dreamed of waking up and going to work just down the street from the Washington Memorial or the Smithsonian, then Southwestern has a new opportunity which might make those dreams come true.

With the help of Doctor Jean Gabriel Jolivet, assistant professor of political science, the college is now offering students the opportunity to apply for internships in Washington D.C. through the Washington Internship Institute (WII). Jolivet met with a representative of WII and made a visit to the institute last fall. “It’s a brand new program and it’s similar to the Chicago Center for Urban Life but now it’s in D.C.,” said Jolivet.

Don’t let the location fool you. Students from all fields of study are encouraged to apply. Jolivet said, “Most people associate D.C. with politics. But the opportunities are going to be available for any major.”

To be eligible, students must have at least 60 credit hours and a 2.5 GPA. Jolivet said one of the benefits of WII is that it provides students with real hands on experience, not just observing and making someone coffee. “It involves an internship where students are going to learn, they are going to have experience, and they are going to work. It enhances their resume when they look for a job. The goal is to prepare them to be marketable when they leave Southwestern,” said Jolivet.

Southwestern has not yet sent any students to WII but has had several students attend the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture, a similar program. Jeff Schaefer, sports administration senior, spent a semester working at a high school in Chicago. Schaefer said, “I tutored kids who were having trouble in math. It was a Christian school but it was inner-city.”

Mahrjon Hafez, theatre senior, spent the fall semester interning with a theatre organization in Chicago. Hafez said the internship helped her as she is preparing for graduation and finding a career path. “I made a lot of connections and I grew confident because I did find an internship. If I can do that then I don’t think it’s so difficult to start my career,” said Hafez.

Students are not tourists but are submerged into the life of the city. Schaefer said, “Any tourist type things we had to do on our own. They showed us the real Chicago and that’s what was really cool. They took us all over the city to show us experiences.”

Hafez recommends going into the experience with an open mind. “Being open to things is wildly different from Winfield. I had to travel across half the city everyday just to get to my internship and it can be scary,” said Hafez.

Jolivet said WII will offer students similar opportunities to The Chicago Center, opportunities that are not available in Winfield.

Students are encouraged to apply for both The Washington Internship Institute and The Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture. Jolivet said, “It’s not a competition with Chicago, it’s just a different type of internship. We want to make this experience work best for students.”

The deadline to apply for WII summer or fall 2010 internships is March 1. Students can download the information packet, including the application, from the college website. For more information about WII, students may contact Dr. Jolivet. For information about The Chicago Center, contact Dr. Phil Schmidt, professor of history.

Lea Shores is a junior majoring in English. You may e-mail her at lea.shores@sckans.edu