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Aggies Engage in Meaningful Work While Learning from Government Experts

Published on 10/23/2020 1:46:55 PM
By Anna Transue, Texas A&M University Office of Undergraduate Studies
 
With the presidential election around the corner, people are voting early in droves. Texans have already cast 4 million ballots, the most in the country. And in Brazos County, more than 30,000 people have already voted.
 
In 2018, the midterm elections sent a record number of women (106) to the House of Representatives as well as significantly more Millennials (26). This shift is one indication that a younger, more diverse generation is eager to get involved in public policy making. At Texas A&M, the Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) does just that. PPIP aims to help younger generations understand the intricacies of government service.
 
Stephanie Webb is the Director of PPIP; along with advisors, she works closely with students to make sure they are placed in internships tailored to their personal interests. The program is open to all undergraduate students, regardless of their major, and offers internships in Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., and various international locations.
 
“It’s not just for students who want to go into public policy—that’s not even something that is a prerequisite. It’s for students who want to learn about public policy and about the process of how things really work. There are many students that go through the program so that they can be better informed,” Webb said.
 
The public perception of government can be a problem for our democracy—most people’s knowledge of it comes from what they see on the news. PPIP is working to break negative stereotypes by offering a better understanding of the whole process.
 
“The news is not representative of all the hard work of the people who are genuinely out there trying to make a difference and to do good,” says Webb.
 
Former Student and PPIP Intern Jack Youngblood ‘20 was unsure how to intersect his management degree with his interest in politics. Youngblood heard about PPIP through one of his friends who interned on Capitol Hill. 
 
After discussing his possible internship options with PPIP staff, Youngblood finally chose to work with Congressman Michael McCaul, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 
 
Alongside McCaul, Youngblood gained experience beneficial to his professional goals while increasing his knowledge of how government operates on a day-to-day basis.
 
Youngblood took advantage of the resources that surrounded him. He found that simply asking questions and networking allowed him to learn the most from professionals at Capitol Hill. 
 
“Opportunity is often just being brave enough to ask. Almost all professionals in Washington, D.C. have been an intern here at some point—it’s almost a rite of passage for working on the Hill. Because of that, people are always more than willing to talk and chat about career goals and their past experiences. I had the chance to speak with some incredible and successful people and gain their perspective, and all it took was just asking,” Youngblood said. 

SP19_Youngblood_DC_Aggie-Ring-Day.jpeg

Jack Youngblood '20 in front of the U.S. Capitol will fellow ANRP & PPIP interns after receiving their Aggie Rings from various members of Congress. From left to right the students are: Justina Graff, Taylre Beaty, Jack Youngblood, Megan Myers, and Emily Pearce. 
 

As he gleaned insight and advice from his D.C. peers and mentors, his perception of current events and issues evolved.  
 
“Overall, being an intern taught me how to understand all sides of an issue, and the real, tangible methods used to achieve policy goals. Having this experience is invaluable in advocacy and has helped me become a well-informed individual in respect to issues that I care about deeply,” Youngblood said. 
 
PPIP created a path for Youngblood to pursue his interests and start a career in politics. Currently, Youngblood is a staff assistant for Senator John Cornyn in Washington, D.C. 
 
The Public Policy Internship Program highlights something found in each Texas A&M student—the potential to make a difference in the world and in history.
 
Students interested in learning more about the program and the process of applying for internships can visit the PPIP website.
 
 
Media contact: Anna Transue, transuea@tamu.edu