Internship with Penn State University Office of Governmental Affairs
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Stephen Payne

Stephen Payne

Hometown: Dallastown, PA
Major(s): Communication Arts & Sciences, Education and Public Policy

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I had worked in the past for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. APLU works closely with the governmental affairs offices of its member institutions. Penn State is one of those institutions, so after working at APLU, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see public university lobbying efforts from the institutional perspective.

Tell us a little about your experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Penn State's Office of Governmental Affairs as their Federal Relations Intern. This position was very rewarding because I believe this is the line of work I would be interested in pursuing after graduation. In my internship, I helped the federal staff research legislation, hearings, and the ways in which the activity of Penn State may be of interest to legislators. I have been exposed to both federal issues, state issues, and even some of the local government issues at Penn State. I've also gained an even better appreciation for the vast amount of federally-funded research.

Seeing how important rhetoric is in the public policy arena first-hand has continued to make a big impact on me.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I think this experience has impacted me academically by supplementing my coursework in both my Communication Arts & Sciences and Education & Public Policy majors. I've noticed how important it is to effectively communicate a message to legislators. Sometimes it can be about the importance of increased funding or even about why a certain regulation may not be the most effective. Understanding how important strong communication can be to the success of an initiative is something I'll take with me. Sometimes the winners in Washington and Harrisburg are those who can most effectively communicate their message to legislators. Seeing how important rhetoric is in the public policy arena first-hand has continued to make a big impact on me.

What are your career goals and plans? How did this experience impact them?

I hope to work on Capitol Hill following graduation. I want to work for a Representative, Senator, or a committee. Working in Penn State's Office of Governmental Affairs has given me a much closer look at what it is like to work on federal issues. Even though we are based here in University Park, PA, we are very connected to Washington. My boss works closely with the staff in Congressional offices, so having a deeper understanding of the day-to-day contact from outside the office has been very intriguing. I can further confirm that this is the field that I want to go into when I graduate from Penn State.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students? If yes, why?

I would recommend this experience. The staff is always incredibly willing to have conversations about higher education issues in Harrisburg and Washington. I can't think of a better place for me to have interned because the Office of Governmental Affairs combines my passion for Penn State with my interest in Congress.

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