Congressional internships open many doors. Thanks to the networks interns build and the political process knowledge they gain, congressional internship alumni are competitive candidates for public service positions on Capitol Hill and beyond.
For this reason, and supported by philanthropic giving, Salem State faculty have spent decades helping their students access congressional internships.
“Finances are often the chief barrier for our students,” explains Jennifer Jackman, PhD, intern coordinator and professor in the politics, policy and international relations department. “Most would be unable to do congressional internships without the stipend support.”
The Rich Levy Congressional Internship program—supported by Michael Harrington ’81H, individual donors through crowdfunding initiatives and the Nellie Mae Foundation—provided a stipend to Christine Belitsky ’23 last summer so that she could experience a congressional internship.
When Belitsky received an offer to intern with Senator Elizabeth Warren, she was elated: Warren’s office was her top choice.
“My professors were instrumental in making it happen,” Belitsky says, “but the stipend was the only reason I could do it.”
Jackman says that even with funding, many of Salem State’s congressional interns often give up regular jobs for the summer to relocate to DC, where their internships are unpaid. “We do everything we can to provide a support system and remove barriers,” Jackman says, “but with additional funds, we could increase the stipend award to counteract students’ summer income loss.”
With this vision in mind, the department is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the program, which was recently named the Rich Levy Congressional Internship program to honor emeritus professor Rich Levy, who launched the program in 2003.
As Belitsky looks towards graduation this May, she feels immense gratitude to the donors who make it possible for students like herself to work on the Hill.
“When I came to Salem State, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do—and now I’m thinking about working on Capitol Hill after graduation,” Belitsky says. “This program changed the course of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Written by Rebecca Hains, PhD, professor, media and communication
“During my time in public office, I had the opportunity to work with many talented students who would go on to become public officials or work in local state and government offices. I’m so proud to help support them, our next generation of leaders.”
—Former Congressman Michael Harrington ’81H, supporter of the Congressional Internship Program