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This past summer, three College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) students had the time of their life as interns in our nation’s capital. Perry Harlow will graduate in May 2018 with a master’s in agriculture education and leadership; Kara Chrispen ’17 graduated in May with a bachelor’s in criminal justice sciences, and Erin Kurecki is a senior interior design major.

“It was this knowledge and application that has given me the confidence to perform well in my future career as an interior designer.”–Erin Kurecki

Obtaining an internship while in college is a fantastic way for students to get hands-on experience outside the classroom and in their selected career field. The Washington, D.C., internship program is available annually to students who are in good academic standing within the College of Applied Science and Technology.

This internship experience is unlike the traditional internship experience. Illinois State University students have the opportunity to travel across the country and live in a new city all while interning with their government agency of choice. Through this program, students are able earn credit hours towards graduation, gain practical life experience, and knowledge of their potential career path all at the same time.

Harlow had the opportunity to work as a legislative intern with United States Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Chrispen spent her summer working with the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) as a victim services specialist intern. Kurecki enjoyed her time with OTJ Architects as an interior design intern with the majority of her projects being in high-end corporate office design.

Applied learning with CAST

Kurecki truly experienced the applied value that the college emphasizes.

“I learned what is is like to work with all individuals during the construction phase. This is something that is nearly impossible to teach in the classroom since every construction project is different and sites are not available for school tours,” Kurecki said. “It was this knowledge and application that has given me the confidence to perform well in my future career as an interior designer.”

When asked what they enjoyed most about the internship experience, Harlow, Chrispen, and Kurecki all mentioned the variety of experiences and real-world application based projects they were able to work on.

As an intern with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Chrispen had the opportunity learn about and work directly with the Victim Services Unit, Patrol Unit, Helicopter Police Unit, Harbor Unit, and the K-9 Unit. Chrispen’s hands-on learning with the Victim Services Unit presented her with the opportunity to assist victims and provide emotional support for them.

“There is no other place in the world to work like the Hill.”–Perry Harlow 

“I gained so many skills,” said Chrispen. “This internship boosted my confidence in my personal and professional skills. Communicating with victims, providing emotional support, and working alongside professionals from all units helps me feel prepared for my future career.”

While Kurecki and Chrispen were busy working hard in their respective departments, Harlow was spending his time on Capitol Hill answering emails and phone calls from constituents, and learning the ins and outs of the legislative route of policy.

“I had the privilege of working with staffers and interns who came from all walks of life,” Harlow said. “My experience working behind the scenes in a congressional office confirmed my passion for the legislative policy route. It put into perspective how hard the staffers work on behalf of Illinois residents and showed me that there is no other place in the world to work like the Hill.”

Advice for future D.C. interns

Harlow, Chrispen, and Kurecki emphasized that their time in Washington, D.C., was life changing. They want students interested in the D.C. internship program to know that not only will they gain invaluable experiences, but they will become more confident personally, and professionally, all while having an amazing time!

“Go into the internship with an open mind,” said Kurecki. “My experience with this program was so fulfilling and I could not be happier with the outcome.”

“I highly encourage anyone interested in policy or who want to work in D.C. to apply for this internship program,” Harlow said. “Washington, D.C., is such a beautiful city with so much history and endless opportunities, and I am so thankful CAST gave me the chance to live and work in one of the most influential places in the world.”

Apply now to be considered for the 2018 Washington D.C. internship program. Applications are due on or before Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

Contact Kara Pool Snyder at (309) 438-3986 or by email for more information about CAST internship opportunities.