Students travel to Harrisburg, work for state departments to gain experience, credits

Published by adviser, Author: Ron Owens - Rocket Contributor, Date: February 5, 2015
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This semester, two Slippery Rock students will embark on a 15-week internship in Harrisburg. Nicole Loncaric, a senior political science major and Abbey Cadden, a senior environmental studies major, have been selected by The Harrisburg Internship Semester (THIS) Program to travel to the state capital and intern in its various departments.

THIS is a program that all of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools participate in. Each school selects a student, or students, and sends them to Harrisburg for the duration of a semester. Since its inception in 1989, PASSHE schools have sent over 500 students to intern in dozens of state departments, agencies and even in the offices of the governor and Speaker of the House.

Associate professor of political science, Dr. Sharon Sykora, is the university’s THIS representative. She explained, “The intent is to give students an opportunity to work in state government, in both the executive and legislative branches in a variety of settings in various agencies and departments.”

The selection process to become a THIS intern starts off, as with any other internship, with the submission of the student’s resume, letters of recommendation and a writing sample. These are all submitted to Sykora who then selects the best candidates.

The head of THIS Program will then send the candidate a survey to best gauge his or her interests. All the candidates are sent to Harrisburg where they will be interviewed at the departments closest to their major and their personal interests. After the interviews, the candidates select which department they would most enjoy working in, and their choice will be made official within a few days and then they start working with their selected department shortly thereafter.

The internship is worth 15 class credits, nine of which are for the work the interns actually perform in Harrisburg. Another three are for a weekly public policy seminar the interns will attend during the course of their stay, and the final three are for a research paper that the interns will submit at the end of their stay. The internship also includes a stipend that covers living and personal expenses.

“It’s truly a wonderful opportunity presented to state school students who might have not had this prospect otherwise,” said Cadden. “THIS helps students further their career goals because it takes students and puts them directly in a field relevant to what they would like to do after college. A great aspect about the program is that you can be any major to participate. When graduation times rolls around THIS interns will have a semester’s worth of experience that employers are looking for when they’re hiring.”

Cadden is interning at the Department of Environmental Protection and Loncaric is interning at the policy office in the Department of Human Services.

Any Slippery Rock student interested in participating in THIS internship next semester is advised to get in contact with Sykora in the Political Science Department. Students of all majors and with all grade point averages are welcome to participate. Further THIS program information is available at the university’s website, THIS program’s website or by calling the Dixon University Center at (717) 720-4089.

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