Two Central Michigan University political science students got the chance to be on the front line of the political process in the White House during a tumultuous year for the U.S. government.
Out of thousands of applicants from across the country, Lake Orion senior Timothy Doescher and Charlevoix graduate student Tim Burger both had internships at the White House in 2006. Doescher worked in the White House Freedom Corps during the spring semester, while Burger worked in the Office of Presidential Messages during the fall semester. Each fall, spring and summer, the White House accepts only 100 interns.
"The White House internship program is very competitive," said Larry Sych, CMU political science professor and internship program director. "The fact that we had two interns accepted into the program in the past year speaks well of our program and how well we are able to prepare people."
Doescher performed hands-on service projects while working with the Freedom Corps, a coordinating council among national service programs, nonprofit organizations and volunteers to help encourage volunteers.
"We were the top of the umbrella for pretty much all government service, so a lot of my time was spent researching different nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit sectors of major organizations," Doescher said.
The experience was especially eye opening for Burger, a 36-year-old with a bachelor's degree in engineering management who did not see himself as typical intern material. His internship responsibilities included logging requests from groups for recognition of milestone anniversaries and special events and producing White House messages for religious holidays such as Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.
"Working at the White House has given me a confidence that I never knew I was capable of and made me realize that if I set my mind to something I can achieve it," Burger said. "Age does not matter if you have the determination."
CMU political science students conduct internships in a variety of positions, including working with city managers, county prosecutors, legislators, senators and members of Congress. Numerous students get involved with the campaigns of political candidates during election years. Many graduates of CMU's program are now working in the Michigan Legislature or are staffers in Lansing.
"The internship program helps students make contacts and exposes them to public service," Sych said. "Our interns have better awareness and self-confidence in their abilities."