Jenn Smola, Campus Editor

Inside Washington students visited the White House press room during their summer experience. (Jenn Smola | The Miami Student)

For many, summer is a time for relaxing by the pool and barbecue hopping, but 21 Miami University students had a very different summer, interning in Washington, D.C.

Participants in Miami University’s summer Inside Washington program lived in the nation’s capital for a 10-week session. While the program has existed since the late 1990s, students this year experienced a Washington summer that was especially politically charged with the tension of the upcoming presidential election and the Supreme Court’s ruling on the controversial Affordable Care Act.

Senior Rob Harrelson interned in Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s office.

“It was really exciting working in the nation’s capital during such an important year for politics,” Harrelson said. “There was so much attention towards each issue to determine how it could play a role in the election.”

During the first three weeks of the program, students met with prominent professionals in the political, communications and journalism fields. This year students met with individuals including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Congressman and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and Brian Lamb, the founder of C-SPAN. During the remaining seven weeks, students were placed in individualized internships throughout the city.

Senior political science major Logan Dick said the combination of the speaker portions and internship portions gave students a specialized but well-rounded idea of Washington.

“Everyone gets to do what they’re passionate about, but also see what else there is in Washington and kind of how the place works,” Dick said.

Howard Kleiman, professor of communications and Inside Washington program coordinator, said having a course in Washington is completely different than in Oxford.

“Most of what we do is experiential,” he said. “Traditionally a lot of higher education is theory-based. What is wonderful in DC is the chance to talk to people who are implementing those theories.”

Kleiman also said being in Washington for the Supreme Court’s healthcare decision was a unique experience for students.

“It was neat [for the students] to be a part of history,” Kleiman said.

Senior Michael Woeste interned at the Administrative Offices of the U.S. Courts. He was assisting in the press office of the Supreme Court when the court issued its healthcare decision.

“That was very cool,” Woeste said of his experience that day. “It was actually being in the middle of the news.”

Despite a big buildup for the court’s decision, Woeste said the press offices were ready when the day of the decision rolled around.

“They were prepared for the storm that was about to come,” Woeste said.

While the total cost of the summer program is roughly $7,000 for in-state students and $9,700 for out-of-state students, Dick said the cost was worth it.

“An unpaid internship plus the cost of this program is a lot, but in the end it’s worth it because it’ll help put you in a good place for your career.”

Kleiman said he urges students to consider the semester version of the program in the spring to avoid the additional cost of a course in the summer. But regardless of when students participate,

Kleiman said he has never gotten any complaints that the cost was not worth it. Costs aside, students say they have had many memorable moments throughout the summer.

Dick said she especially enjoyed the group’s visit to the White House pressroom.

“My favorite speaker was the assistant press secretary at the White House, just because she made me feel like that could be me someday, kind of feel like all of this is attainable,” Dick said. “DC is cool like that; it’s run by young people so it’s fun to be part of that.”