My decision to intern at the Department of Education was an easy one. After declaring a Public Affairs major with an Education Policy minor at The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs, I was confident that ED would be the perfect fit for me. Working on the ground and personally experiencing educational inequities at a school in Orlando, Florida, made seeing the policy at the federal level the next best step toward making a change.
I spent my spring semester working with the incredible press team in the Office of Communications and Outreach. The press team has a hand in nearly everything that goes on at the Department of Education, from pre-kindergarten to higher education. Communication is our primary goal on our team (hence the name), but I think the ‘outreach’ segment of our job is what touched me the most.
Throughout my time with the press team, I managed many day-to-day tasks, from news roundups of the Department’s events, press outreach to gain coverage of our initiatives, or social media analysis of hot button issues in the realm of education policy. Our office was constantly moving, as talks to craft a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act began in Congress. But my work extended far beyond the day-to-day. I had the opportunity to prepare reporter bios and issue summaries for Secretary Arne Duncan’s press calls and join the team in staffing the meetings. I attended the Secretary’s budget hearings and speeches as the Congressional discussions with other interns. As my spring capstone course met one evening, we discussed our workdays while waiting for our professor. I eagerly told my group about the Secretary’s press call I sat in on that morning with student reporters that featured a special guest: President Barack Obama!
Seeing the macro, federal level of education through the press office at ED was the perfect counterpart to my on-the-ground experiences in education. It was truly humbling to see the work of my team, the Secretary, and the Department as a whole come together to engage families and communities with our nation’s work in education. We often saw (and heard of) the disparities in our education system and all the work we have to do—our programs can only do so much for so long. But it was unexplainably encouraging to see all of the work the teachers, parents, and students have done, as they go above and beyond anything the Department has started.
Spending a semester at ED working with dedicated, hardworking individuals to engage the community in educating our nation’s children will remain unmatched alongside the rest of my college experience.
Michelle Fugate is a fourth year student at The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs. She interned at the U.S. Department of Education in Spring 2015.
ED is accepting applications for Fall 2015 internships through July 15, 2015.
If you are interested in interning during the upcoming term, there are three things you must send in order to be considered for an interview:
- A cover letter summarizing why you wish to work at ED and stating your previous experiences in the field of education, if any. Include which particular offices interest you. (But, keep in mind that – due to the volume of applications we receive – if we accept you as an intern we may not be able to place you in your first-choice office.)
- An updated resumé.
- A completed copy of the Intern Application.
Prospective interns should send these three documents in one email to: StudentInterns@ed.gov with the subject line formatted as follows: Last Name, First Name: Summer Intern Application.
(Note: For candidates also interested in applying specifically to the Office of General Counsel, please see application requirements here.)
An internship at ED is one of the best ways students can learn about education policy and working in the civil service. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to develop crucial workplace skills that will help you in whatever career path you choose. In addition to our office of communications and outreach, interns can explore fields like education policy, education law, business and finance, research and analysis, intergovernmental relations and public affairs, all while learning about the role federal government plays in education. An internship with ED also provides students with an opportunity to meet fellow students who share your passion for education, learning, and engagement.