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Today’s blog post comes from our current APSCUF intern, Whitley Harbold, a junior political science major at West Chester University. In this blog update, Whitley provides an update on how four former interns are using the experience they gained at APSCUF to succeed in their careers. For more information on APSCUF internships and scholarships, please visit the APSCUF: Students page on our website.

Every year APSCUF offers an internship to students who are studying at one of the 14 state-owned institutions of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). As a political science student at West Chester University, I was fortunate enough to participate in an internship at the State APSCUF office for Fall 2011. It feels a little awkward not being at West Chester for the semester, but it did not take long to adjust. I believe every student should have an internship while they are studying in college because workplace skills are not necessarily learned in the classroom. Studying outside of the classroom allows a student to see how a particular career really operates. An internship allows students to network, which benefits them when they get ready to secure a job after college.

We reconnected with past APSCUF interns to see where they are now and how much this internship has impacted their life. We begin with Stephen Donaldson, who was the Summer 2010 intern.

Before the internship Stephen was very adamant about going to law school, but after he completed the APSCUF internship he realized he enjoyed politics and lobbying more. He was able to learn a lot about how the legislative process works, such as how a bill becomes a law. He said, “I was taught how to take ‘copious’ notes and that the skills you hone from a great internship, like the one APSCUF has are far superior to anything you learn in the classroom.” Stephen is now interning at Greenlee Partners, where he tracks legislation, session and committee meeting coverage and anything else their clients need.

Not only did this internship allow Kelly Williams to see what she wanted to do in her future, but she was given an opportunity to return the following summer in a contract position for public policy research and governmental relations.

Kelly recommends any college student to have an internship experience. “Of course, the classroom education is imperative to higher education, but an internship gives one invaluable experience that they can take with them into professional employment,” she states.

The next intern is Dan Byler who was the Spring 2011 intern.

Dan is currently pursuing a master’s in instructional technology at Bloomsburg University. This internship allowed him to realize that he would not be happy doing governmental relations as his career, which is the good thing about internships. He states, “While the internship was great and I learned a lot, I realized that I am too opinionated and results-oriented to be a good lobbyist.” APSCUF provides housing for interns if they live too far away to commute. He admits that by living on his own and working almost full-time for APSCUF it made him grow up a little bit and focus on what he wanted from his career. Dan said, . When asked what she learned from her internship at APSCUF, she answered, “Networking and the importance of it, as well as lobbying.” This internship allowed Heather to see what kind of environment she would prefer to work in every day. She recommends any college student obtain an internship for academic credit because when you are a student in high school, it is hard to choose a major that you want to do your entire life. Heather said, “An internship is eye-opening and really lets you see what you want to do.”

Overall, it is very apparent that the APSCUF internship has been valuable for those chosen for this great opportunity. This internship is fit for many students that enjoy working with the legislative process and communication and media. Internships can lead to great things, such as a job or a life-changing moment to continue in a different direction. The skills and networking that occur during an internship are just a valuable as college classes. The APSCUF internship is great experience for any college student at one of the PASSHE institutions.