Experience goes to the next level with PASSHE

“Imagine spending a semester roaming the halls of the State Capitol building. You never know who you are going to meet around the next corner. It could be a state representative, a state senator, one of the Governor’s cabinet members, or maybe even the Governor himself. Better yet, imagine getting 15 credits for it at little or no cost to you. Intrigued? Consider applying to participate in The Harrisburg Internship Semester,” advised Kristina Lilac, an intern of the program.

Lilac, a senior government and political affairs major with a minor in history, is one of 11 students participating in The Harrisburg Internship Semester program, which provides students with the opportunity to work in all areas of state government while earning 15 credits for the semester.

Interns earn nine credits for their internship with a state office or agency, three credits for a weekly academic seminar, and three credits for a research project.

Each of the 14 PASSHE universities can send one student to participate in the program. Students chosen in the program must pay for their regular tuition fees up front, but they will receive a $6500 stipend over the course of the semester to reimburse for costs spent on tuition and housing.

Interns can be placed in a variety of sections. Lilac is currently interning at the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

“I’m technically placed within the Outreach and Regulatory Services division of IRRC, meaning that I work mostly with IRRC’s relations with the public and state employees,” Lilac said.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission is an independent state agency that reviews much of the state regulations of statutory authority, public well-being, fiscal impact, clarity and other non-policy-related factors.

Pennsylvania is the only state that has an independent regulatory review agency.
Lilac’s job is to prepare the monthly legislative report. She must analyze and summarize every bill introduced that month with regulatory provisions.

She also reviews the previous month’s report to determine if any action was taken on the bills included in the report.

Lilac’s supervisor has allowed her to work with the Regulatory Analysis division.

This gives her the opportunity to work directly with regulatory analysts so that she can learn how to analyze a regulation and prepare reports that the analysts need to write for the program commissioners each month.

“I also had the chance to attend meetings and hearings over the Capitol on various topics, so I definitely have a variety of tasks,” Lilac said.

THIS interns are required to complete a research project in order to receive three academic credits.

Lilac’s project is a comparison of the federal regulatory review process and the process used in Pennsylvania.

Lilac will be presenting her project to five commissioners, appointees of the Governor and the four caucuses of the General Assembly. “[The Assembly] ultimately determines whether to approve or disapprove a regulation, so presenting the report in front of them should be interesting!” Lilac joked.

Interns are mandated to attend seminars every Tuesday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“I love being able to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to the real world; but even more than that, I love being in the center of state government,” Lilac said.

Lilac’s internship has reinforced her desire to work in government, a career path that she has wanted to pursue from the time she was applying for colleges in high school.

“I plan to attend graduate school to ensure that I can keep working toward my goal of having a government career,” Lilac said. “Prior to this internship, I was actually leaning more toward pursuing a career related to international policy, and I’ve had to step back and determine whether I really want to leave Harrisburg or not.”

Lilac chose to supplement her education with an internship because she felt that internships provide students with real life experience that one cannot find sitting inside a classroom.

“You are not just learning theories- you’re learning practical skills and applying theories to the real world. I liked the idea of The Harrisburg Internship Semester because it also included the academic component, ensuring that I’m learning as much as possible even though I’m not taking a full course load.”

“Anyone who wants to have a government career really should try to do as many internships as possible because they help you to learn valuable skills and to network, which is extremely important” Lilac advised.

“Keep your grades up as well! I’ve gotten both of my internships because of my strong academic record, so I think maintaining a high GPA can really help.  Internships can lead to job offers, so don’t think that your grades won’t matter.”