SIWP Offers Students Social and Professional Perks

Students working in the nation's Capitol this summer shouldn't be surprised to see familiar faces shuffling through the halls of the White House's West Wing, filing into the Supreme Court, or even playing softball together on the Mall.

Just last year, the Institute of Politics' (IOP) Summer In Washington Program (SIWP) brought Harvard undergrads working in D.C. to the offices of beltway bigwigs like Supreme Court Justice Antonin G. Scalia, politico James Carville and Deputy Chief of Staff Sylvia Matthews for a series of informal gatherings and speeches.

This summer, Harvard students in Washington will again have access to the name-drawing resources of the IOP in addition to its social network, designed to make working in a foreign city a bit less lonely. According to SWIP coordinator Hannah Choi '01, the summer program--and its sister programs in New York and Boston--continues to serve a number of important purposes.

"I think SIWP is important because it brings Harvard students together to share their different interning experiences and also allows them to interact with political leaders in ways they ordinarily would not," she said.

Jamie H. Ginott '01, who is organizing the first-ever Summer in New York Program this year, said she sees it as an opportunity to further the IOP's goals.


"We'd like to continue our mission to encourage students in public service, especially over the summer," Ginott said.

Additionally, Summer in Boston Coordinator Kathryn R. Markham '00, who is also a Crimson editor, said this is the first year in which the Boston program will also provide an opportunity for public service.

"That seems to be a very natural complement to political activism," she said.

In addition to coordinating a wide range of speeches, last year's SIWP director Christa M. Franklin '98-'99 said she also focused on providing a number of social options for interns.

Those on the fast-track can take advantage of the programs less time-intensive activities. Franklin said that even given busy schedules and the stress of acclimating to new surroundings, D.C. interns held two staples of summer social life sacred.

"When I was hired...members of the [IOP Student Advisory Committee (SAC)] told me to make sure I kept the Sunday softball games and the happy hours," Franklin said.

Undergrads who took advantage of SIWP last summer said they enjoyed the opportunity to socialize and meet impressive and influential speakers. For most students, access to such speakers is limited but, as Byron J. McLain '00, chair of the IOP's projects committee said, being a Harvard crowd helps.

"[Scalia] was only willing to speak to Harvard students, since he was a Harvard [Law] grad," McLain said.

But Thomas P. Windom '00, who interned for both of Alabama's senators last summer, said SIWP also offered something more than the traditional Harvard parade of big names--a chance to get outside and have fun. Windom said the softball games, held in sight of the Washington monument on the Mall, were especially enjoyable.

"I was more interested in the fun parts [of the program]," he said. "[Without SIWP] we would have had a lot less fun at our [summer] house."

The social side of SIWP is not lacking. Other students added that the program offers an environment conducive to meeting new people.

As C.J. Mahoney '00, a member of SAC and a former Washington intern said, "It's much easier to get to know people without the stress of papers and all that."

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