In the summer of 2008, then-NIU President John Peters and political science professor Matt Streb visited Washington, D.C. to meet with members of the Illinois Congressional delegation. During that visit, Peters commented that, although they met many interns on their visits to congressional offices, he was surprised and disappointed that he and Streb had not met any NIU students. Streb said that for most NIU students interning in D.C. was not an option because of the immense costs associated with doing so. Peters, a political scientist by training whose area of research focused on the U.S. Congress, said, “We need to rectify that.” He charged Streb with creating the NIU D.C. Summer Congressional Internship Program where students would be selected through a competitive process and receive a stipend to help them offset the costs of interning in the nation’s capital.
In the summer of 2009, NIU sent its first cohort of interns to D.C. Since that time, more than 50 students have participated in and benefitted from the program. Many visited D.C. for the first time. For some, it was a life-changing experience altering their career trajectories. Several remained in D.C. All have found the program to be rewarding and educational.
My office has benefited greatly from the NIU Congressional Internship Program. The students become an integral part of our office and get involved in legislative work, communications, and constituent services. They have the opportunity to not only learn about government, but have a hand in shaping it. The NIU program is wonderful.