Internships Put Students on Path to Public Service

Center for Public Policy Has 13-Year History of Matching Students with Public Offices

An interest in public policy is the first ingredient for a career in public service. For University of Houston and University of Houston-Downtown undergraduate students, an internship with the UH Center for Public Policy (CPP) Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP) is the second.

"This program places students in city, county, state or congressional offices for valuable hands-on experience," said Renée Cross, CPP associate director. "The part-time internships allow full-time students the chance to get involved in politics and public service without taking a semester off to do so."

The deadline to apply for a fall 2009 CPP government internship is May 22. Applications are available at Students must have a grade point average of at least 2.5 and do not need to be political science majors. CPP provides one $500 scholarship for an outstanding intern at the conclusion of the semester.

"While their internship may be part-time, many of the interns have received full-time jobs as a result of their experience," said Cross.

The CPP Civic Houston Internship Program began in 1996 and has placed more than 700 students in internships. For some, it was the beginning of a life of public service. Alums of the program who now are in key positions in government include Darrin Hall, deputy director of governmental affairs for the city of Houston; Debra Gonzales, legislative director for Texas State Sen. Mario Gallegos, Jr. and Emily Klein, district aide for Congressman John Culberson.

"I'd like to be involved in politics someday, so this experience was vital," said Taylor Kilroy, a senior political science and public relations major, who is interning in the office of Houston Council Member Pam Holm. "I spend my breaks lobbying in Austin, and I am currently a senator in the UH Student Government Association, but neither of these were on the scale that I wanted. I wanted to actually work in a brick-and-mortar office, and the CPP internship was crucial for that."

Interns can expect to work about eight hours a week, or 112 hours for the semester. Duties vary, but may include research, project coordination, clerical work, media relations or policy analysis.

"My experience at the Center for Houston's Future has provided me with an opportunity to participate in the research process of a non-profit organization," said Vincent Harding, a senior political science major."This understanding will help me relate to people of all socioeconomic levels, and will help me when I run for public office in the future."

All interns selected will attend an orientation and three class sessions. A 10-page research paper and an activity report are due at the conclusion of the internship.

"Internships can be the first step in developing critical professional skills for the students who will become the next generation of community and governmental leaders," said Cross.

For more information or to apply for the CPP Civic Houston Internship Program, visit or contact Mike Angel at