IOP Expands Director's Internship Program

IOP Director's Internship
Leila L. Pirbay

Students hear from Christopher Danello ’12 and Medha Gargeya ’14 as they explain what to expect from the IOP Director’s Internships application and selection process. The program offers over 80 paid summer positions this year.

With more students than ever applying for the Institute of Politics’ Director’s Internship program last summer, the IOP has diversified and expanded the offerings for the 2012 cycle.

After about 500 students applied for the 62 opportunities last year, the IOP staff said they began looking for more internships in new fields. This year, the IOP is offering 90 spots; applications are due on Friday.

The program, which places students in summer jobs at companies and organizations ranging from Politico to the Peace Corps and pays them $4,000 stipends for the work, has seen a dramatic rise in interest over the past few years. In 2009, 375 students applied for 51 slots. The following year, 494 submitted applications for roughly the same number of opportunities.

“One driver to do more this year was thinking of all the people we said no to,” said IOP Director C.M. “Trey” Grayson ‘94.

When looking for new positions, the staff focused on diversifying the program to attract students not already involved in the IOP, according to Medha B. Gargeya ’14, the IOP internship chair.

“We hope more students are going to apply who do not necessarily want to go into politics,” Gargeya said. “We want a broader theme of public service, so that the IOP becomes home to many more people.”

New additions to the roster this year include Facebook and The New Republic. Gargeya said that the IOP also focused on finding connections with organizations that could appeal to those with more specific political interests, including Greenpeace and Victory Fund, an advocacy group focusing on electing LGBT leaders. Nine new international opportunities also were added this year.

“The largest changes are that we’ve expanded the offerings drastically and diversified the opportunities,” said Amy Howell, director of the IOP’s internship programs.

Grayson attributed the increasing interest in the program to the quality of the placements and the support the IOP offered.

“The draw is that [the internship] is a package,” Grayson said. “It’s a combination of an interesting experience and a process that’s easy to follow, not just a run-of-the-mill internship experience.”

In addition, the $4,000 stipend makes usually-unpaid internships with nonprofits and government offices a viable summer option.

“You don’t need to worry about finances during the summer—a lot of internships are unpaid, so the IOP makes sure it is covered,” said Harvard Republican Club President Derek J. Bekebrede ’13, who worked with the Heritage Foundation last summer.

According to Howell, students have used the Director’s Internship program to connect with potential employers and gain experience in the field.

“On the scale of summer internships, it is much more meaningful than sitting on Capitol Hill, answering phone calls and making people coffee,” said Lange P. Luntao ’12, who worked on social media, networking, and reaching out to policy makers as an intern with the MacArthur Foundation. “It’s absolutely the best way to make a summer internship viable.”

—Staff writer David Song can be reached at davidsong@college.harvard.edu.

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