Most federal government internships offered to college students are unpaid, leaving many eligible students with no other choice than to pursue opportunities elsewhere. To address this issue, the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University launched a groundbreaking program called the Federal Workforce Initiative which will fund some 10 federal internships each semester for students working in various government agencies.
The program is a joint venture among the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, the Schar School, and Mason.
The Federal Workforce Initiative kicked off with an inaugural reception in September at the Virginia home of Schar School alum Colin Hart, MA Global Commerce and Policy ’93, and his wife Marianne. Cohosts on hand included former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis and former president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council Bobbie Kilberg and her husband Bill Kilberg. Other initiative hosts include former Virginia State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and former presidential counselor Thomas F. (Mack) McLarty and his wife Donna.
In introducing the Federal Workforce Initiative to the invited audience of community and business leaders, Mason President Gregory Washington and Schar School founding dean Mark J. Rozell described how the program will channel talented students into exclusive federal government internships and provide leadership training, networking opportunities, and other aspects of professional development.
Schar School public policy professor Anne Holton, former interim Mason president, said the program is “a win-win-win situation” for students and the federal agencies they serve, noting that the federal workforce is aging and is desperate to see an influx of “young bright minds” in the near future. She added that the Schar School will increase its regional presence in bringing new workers to federal agencies, and Mason students will be afforded training and experiential learning opportunities, thrusting them ahead of peers from other area universities.
Students chosen for the competitive initiative will receive a stipend of $3,500 each semester. Stuart Loomis, a Master of Political Science student at the Schar School and one of the first recipients, spoke movingly about how receiving the stipend during his internship at the Department of Transportation will impact his education, his career, and his life.