Students intern with political professionals

Youngstown State University students are infiltrating the Ohio General Assembly.

The Columbus Program in Intergovernmental Issues, also known as CPII, is a 15-week program headed by Kent State University and directed by Vernon Sykes, an assistant professor of political science at KSU.

Open to juniors and seniors of any accredited college and major, CPII gives students the opportunity to work alongside politicians and those associated with public policy at the state level through a combination of coursework and internships.

Levant Miller, a YSU senior from the Bahamas, is spending 15 weeks with state Sen. Charleta Tavares of the Ohio Senate’s 15th District, learning the ropes of public policy at the state level.

“I realized that this opportunity was much bigger than me,” Miller said. “I became intimidated by what it meant to be an international YSU student working in the Statehouse of Ohio, but I refused to let my fears get the best of me.”

Miller wishes to be a politician as well as a filmmaker, and also plans to pursue a graduate degree in media communication. Internships are a critical step in achieving professional goals, Miller said.

“I strongly urge YSU students to pursue internships — regardless of their endeavors,” Miller said. “Internships give the opportunity to put into practice the theoretical knowledge we are acquiring from our professors.”

CPII students receive 15 credit hours for the program, which is equivalent to a full schedule of political science courses for that semester. Majors of every discipline are welcome, but a 2.5 GPA is required. Fees for the program include the cost of YSU tuition, housing and an administrative fee.

Cryshanna Jackson, an assistant professor of political science, has offered a solution to students who are unable to leave the area due to their personal obligations, but who would still like to experience an internship like CPII: YSU’s Urban Intern Program.

YSU student Bianca Koup began interning through the program on May 15 at U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s Salem office. She did so at a time when she was having doubts about pursuing a degree in law.

Koup performed basic secretarial work and attended events, such as ribbon-cutting ceremonies and the Eastern Ohio Job Fair, on Johnson’s behalf. She has since been asked to remain as a paid member of the congressman’s staff.

“The urban internship program has opened a gate to the rest of my life. I absolutely love my job,” Koup said.

The Urban Intern Seminar (Political Science 5800) counts as three credit hours and involves students working in an approved local agency for 15 hours a week.

Through this program, students are able to receive the same experience of working with political professionals — but without leaving their backyards.

“I would recommend anyone who is considering the program to just do it,” Koup said. “It is well worth it, and if you do not get a job out of it, you will make contacts, learn to network and eventually have connections that can help throughout your professional life.”

The Youngstown Foundation provides scholarships for the program. Given that students have completed the program to their agency’s satisfaction, sponsors of the agency also provide a $400 stipend for the intern at the end of the semester.

Jackson encourages students of all majors who are interested to visit the political science department’s website for more information.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things,” Jackson said. “The opportunities are endless.”