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New program offers public leadership job experience

By Caroline Bevan
On November 8, 2012

Miami University's Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs unveiled a new internship initiative Nov. 1 that assigns selected students to local, state or non-profit government agencies throughout Ohio. The program, titled Ohio Public Leaders: Inside State and Local Government, allows students of various political science department majors to gain hands on experience in the public leadership field and further develop their understanding of government institutions. Awarded credit hours for the new initiative vary and accepted students have all costs covered by the program through a fellowship. Although the program does not officially take off until Miami's 2014 winter session, a few students may be selected to start internships as early as spring 2013.

Philip Russo, head of the public administration department and Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs, said he expects many students to show interest and for the selection process to be very competitive. Only five to six students will be accepted into the program for each session.

"It will be a highly immersive experience for students," Russo said. "They will be testing their skills in areas such as public management, policy and political analysis for 40 hours a week for four weeks."

Russo has been working for three years to expand internships in the political science department and make them more intensive. With the creation of the winter session, Russo said it was the perfect time to zero in and put effort into identifying a student immersion program. Other session times in the spring and summer are also being explored in order to better suit students' schedules.

Mark Morris, professor in the political science department, said the program is working with the constraints of the institutions and hoping to expand their time frames. Examples of agencies students will shadow include the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio House of Representatives, the Scioto Foundation and the Champaign County Prosecutor's Office. Connections to many of the organizations were formed and continue to grow through alumni relations.

Morris said having footsteps to follow and an experienced mentor gives students the qualifications and guidelines they need for the future.

"We need to stop the brain drain in Ohio," he said.

To students' advantage, Miami is unique in its inclusion of an undergraduate Public Administration program and highly accredited pre-law program.

"Miami gives students a really powerful opportunity to stand out," Morris said."And with the development of the new program, students will only increase their credentials."

Senior Meghan Wadsworth, a Public Administration major, said the new internship initiative will provide students with a more focused and goal oriented experience that many times students themselves have to figure out on their own without the help of the school.

"You have to go into a job demonstrating necessary skills," she said. "It's not about theory; rather, it's about practice."

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