Kent State’s Washington Program in National Issues gives students future opportunities


The 2019 Washington Program in National Issues students at the Capitol Building during a coffee hour with Senator Sherrod Brown. 

Juniors and seniors at Kent State who are curious about the government or have a passion for politics can apply to the Washington D.C. internship program.

The program was started in 1973 by the main founder Frances Richardson, the first woman to graduate from Kent State with a journalism degree. She believed Kent’s students had no idea how Washington D.C. worked because Kent was a small midwestern town and the action took place in D.C, according to Frances Richardson’s bio on Kent’s Washington D.C. program website.

To get started, you have to set up an interview with Richard Robyn, a political science professor and the Washington program leader at Kent State University. 

“I think it’s very important that students have this internship opportunity,” Robyn said. “A work experience in a professional setting, rather than a simple McDonald’s or something like that, could be a real benefit.” 

This program is very competitive, as many people apply to the program. Likewise, they only take 24 students to Washington D.C.

The application process begins at the end of the spring semester, but the actual program isn’t until the next spring semester. The application process requires two letters of recommendation from a professor and a work supervisor. 

The GPA requirement is 2.75, but a 3.00 and above gives you a better advantage. 

After being notified of getting accepted into the program, start looking for internships in Washington D.C. It is best to start right away because deadlines for some applications are really early. 

There are many different opportunities for internships for different majors like the Federal Communications Commissions, CBS News, ABC News, Lockheed Martin, RAINN and at Senators or Representatives offices. 

“Students who are interested in knowing how the government can impact their lives are the ones who I think could be interested in this,” Robyn said. “No matter what major you do in the future, what career you have, Washington National Government is going to impact your life in some way: taxes, regulation, going to war and so many other ways.”

During the semester in Washington D.C., you work three days during the week at the internship and during the other two days you take a class with professor Robyn. 

“The Washington program like we have, it’s interactive learning,” Cory Antoncic, a senior political science major who was accepted for the 2020 program, said. 

Antoncic is hoping for an internship with the Food and Drug Administration or the United States Department of Agriculture. However, he also applied to many other places, as it is recommended to apply to 10 to 12 places of interest, he said. 

Even though, this program does not guarantee a job after college, many alumni have found opportunities from being in the right place at the right time. 

“So they come to our program, they talk to our students, they help them with things like resumes, and how to think about their careers,” Robyn said. “We have a lot of other networking opportunities where students get a chance to go outside of the Kent State circle, meet lots of other people too.”

Likewise, some alumni may have contacts for the students in Washington. 

This opportunity has been very eye opening and important to the students as it teaches many life lessons.

“The program taught me a lot about living and working in D.C. I was able to work in my dream internship in Congressman Tim Ryan’s office and learn so much about the work he does to help our district,” Haley Foster, a Kent State graduate who went during the 2019 spring semester and now works as a national consultant for Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, said. “I think the biggest capacity in which the program helped me was that it unlocked part of who I am as a person and what my dreams and goals are for the future.” 

Outside of work and studying time, students can also tour the city and go to the museums. 

“Students would say they have a good time, it’s fun too,” Robyn said. “And part of the fun is to go to those museums for free. (D.C.) has become a great city for all kinds of food from the expensive to the not so expensive.” 

The program has been running for almost 50 years and has around 1,000 alumni. 

“The more that students know how government can impact their lives,” Robyn said. “The better they are as a citizen of this country.” 

If you are thinking of applying, check out the Washington D.C. program’s website.

Contact Ryanne Locker at [email protected].