For more than 40 years, the Institute of Politics has provided support for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to pursue a summer internship in public service. The signature offerings of the IOP’s Summer of Service program engages more than 150 students with meaningful experiences in politics and public service. From working for elected officials to non-profits, federal, state and local governments, activist groups and think tanks – IOP Summer of Service students immerse themselves in issues and policies for eight weeks as they explore opportunities and careers with public purpose.
Follow along on our social channels with #MyIOPSummer as we share some of the internship experiences in this cohort of students.
Amen Gashaw '24 reflects on her summer working with the Office of Governor Larry Hogan. In addition to being part of the IOP’s Summer of Service program, Amen is also a Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellow in Government Service this summer.
How has this internship experience shaped how you’re thinking about your future/career?
I’ve always been uncertain about my career goals, and, as a result, have dipped my toe into just about every discipline imaginable in an attempt to better understand how to best leverage my skills and interests. Conveniently, working in state government this past month has required me to exercise my mind in all of the many areas in which I’m interested, from medicine, public health, and STEM, to politics, economics, art, and writing. Previously, I’d always thought I’d have to choose between my numerous passions when selecting a career, but state government has taught me that the best profession is the one that brings each of those passions into range and allows them to intersect and interact. It’s made me excited about the prospect of eventually (hopefully) working in government and employing what I once thought was an excessive number of interests (that I now know each serve their purpose) to think innovatively, effect meaningful change, and improve the lives of my peers and fellow citizens.
What have you learned about public service from your internship? How has your internship impacted how you think about public service?
It’s always easy to assume that the divisive racketeering we hear about in the news or rumors about backroom deals and unsavory characters are all there is to politics, working in government, and public service at large. Through my time at the Governor’s Office, though, I’ve come to learn that public service is a way of life lived by people who are far more human, sensitive, empathetic, and well-intentioned than we think when looking in from the outside. Every day, the public servants at the Office, while often forced to play the politics game, ultimately have the best interests of their constituents at heart. Whether that be through prioritizing “customer service” by keeping tabs on every constituent call that comes through, or developing an all-new human services platform to centralize and streamline applications for unemployment, Medicaid, childcare, and so much more, political maneuverings are merely the facade that obscures the real policymaking and service work happening every day. Service and community are ceaseless, impervious to the external toxicity of government work, even and especially when divisions and bureaucracy make the process arduous and taxing. It’s given me a lot of hope for the future of our national politics, knowing that, even for the people we hear about in headlines, public service is, at its core, more about service than publicity, politics, or power.