Nine Illinois State University students participated in the 2017 Civic Engagement Trip to Washington, D.C. this summer. Supported by the American Democracy Project, the trip to the capital provides students of different majors with opportunities to see government in action, as well as networking opportunities for jobs and graduate school.
Professor Erik Rankin, the faculty organizer for the trip, accompanied students to meetings with a variety of political stakeholders, elected officials, and ISU alums working in Washington. Students met Senator Richard Durbin, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (who is also an ISU Politics and Government alum), and Congressman Rodney Davis. The day on Capitol Hill included meetings with numerous ISU alumni currently working on the Hill. They shared stories and advice for students about pursuing jobs and internships with members of Congress.
Some of the highlights of the trip also include a visit with The Podesta Group, a top D.C. lobbying firm. In addition, ISU alumna Corine Weiler arranged for the group to meet with numerous bipartisan principals. Jen Domagal-Goldman of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) spoke with students about The American Democracy Project, and students also visited with The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM). GSPM kindly invited students to a panel discussion near Union Station about the world of lobbying. There students networked with GSPM graduate students, as well as current Washington, D.C. lobbyists.
A member of last year’s Civic Engagement Trip, Maya Reijmer, who is currently interning at No Labels, spoke to the students about her own first-hand experience. According to Rankin, the students were able to gain insight into what interning with an advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. is all about.
The trip also included visits to the Smithsonian and a tour of most of Washington, D.C.’s famous monuments and sites.