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New Policy Internships

When it comes to learning about education policy, there's classroom reading and discussion, and there's the policy arena out in the real world. Knowledge of both is essential, but unfortunately most education schools do very little to facilitate much exposure to the latter.

Now, TC's Office of Policy and Research has launched a new program called Policy Connections, through which it will act as a clearinghouse for student internships with 25 public and private institutions in New York City and around the state. These include the Office of the Mayor, the New York State Department of Education, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and New Visions for Public Schools. In the summer, students will also be able to apply for internships with organizations in Washington, D.C.

"This program is designed to engage students in important policy work going on in the City," says Luis Huerta, Assistant Professor of Education, who is directing the new program. "We surveyed students last year and heard clearly that this is something they wanted. We also see it as a way for TC to begin to reach out to the community."
More broadly, the program's goals are to bridge the gap between research and practice in educational policy; to assist education advocacy, activist or policy organizations in their work; to provide TC students with authentic and professional policy experiences; and to help students find employment opportunities that help them pay the bills in the short term and further their career interests down the road.

To those ends, Huerta and Internship Coordinator Allison Roda, a graduate assistant in the Office of Policy and Research, have circulated an announcement introducing TC Policy Connections to some 200 students who participate in TC's Student Policy Network. Applicants for internships are required to have taken some policy classes at TC, but beyond that, "this is not being offered as part of a class, as previous internship programs have been," Huerta says. "Any student who has an interest in policy can participate." He adds that while the program provides information about available internships, students are responsible for applying and interviewing for positions.

"We've worked with participating organizations to ensure that these are real policy-related opportunities, not excuses to bring in people to pour coffee," he says. For example, The After-School Corporation is looking for a student to work on research and planning for an upcoming report on the quality and quantity of after-school programs in New York City. The work will include interviewing after-school coordinators, assessing gaps in services and writing sections of the report. New Visions for Public Schools maintains a formal internship program of its own in which interns act as consultants for clients within the organization on issues such as college readiness, community advocacy and business planning. The Mayor's Office of Adult Education is seeking interns to work on developing educational television programs, gather and statistically analyze data and conduct literature reviews. And the ACLU needs help with its "school to prison pipeline" project, which seeks to combat the criminalization of student misconduct.

Similarly, Huerta said, by advertising the internships through the Student Policy Network, the program is ensuring that the students who apply will be of high quality.

"Many of these organizations deal with policy issues surrounding the issue of practice, and our students are versed in that," Huerta says. "Their expertise ranges from early childhood to comparative education. So we're drawing on a very diverse pool of talent."

"Ultimately, our hope is that students will start to build connections with some of these organizations and increase their chances for jobs with them when they graduate."

Students with questions about the Policy Connections program should contact Huerta at 212-678-4199 or by email at

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