Preparation

Flinders University’s internship program in Washington DC provides invaluable insights into the working of Congress and could produce another great social and political commentator, according to the new US Ambassador to Australia, Mr Jeff Bleich. Read more ... (PDF 92KB)

There is an extensive briefing program for students accepted in to the Internship program:

  • A series of seminars, beginning immediately after selection and involving past interns, deal with the J1 visa process, placements in Congress, office expectations and living arrangements in Washington.
  • A discussion with the US Consul General in Melbourne when the students attend their interviews for the J1 visa.
  • A video conference with Steve Slattery and Charles Mahtesian and the head of the Congressional Liaison section of the Australian Embassy in Washington. The Flinders participants in the video conference include the State Director of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, parents and partners of Interns, past Interns and senior University officers.
  • On arrival in Washington two further briefings are held, one given by Steve Slattery on Congressional office procedure, and the other by the Congressional Liaison section of the Australian Embassy.
  • A briefing at the US State Department at the midpoint of the Program brings the Interns together with State Department staff in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, Bureau of Public Affairs and the State Department’s Desk Officers responsible for the day-to-day relationship with Australia.
  • The Australian Embassy in Washington each year generously hosts a formal reception for the Flinders and ANU Interns. The Member of Congress for whom the Intern is working and the legislative and policy staff in their Congressional office are also invited to attend. In 2011, Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, the Hon Kim Beazley, personally hosted this event and the Vice Chancellors of Flinders University, Professor Michael Barber, and ANU Vice Chancellor, Prof Ian Chubb, participated in the event.

Cost

A good estimate of the minimum cost of the Washington Internship Program is A$8,000.

Students should budget for US$1,960 each for their share of rental costs over the roughly 8-week stay in Washington.

Airfares can be checked with airlines and travel agents. A figure of A$3,000 is a reasonable assumption. Per diem expenses include food, laundry and incidentals; it is prudent to budget at least A$20 per day. Phone cards are recommended for international calls.

Students will take out Flinders University insurance for their time in Washington which provides comprehensive health and accident insurance for approximately $200.

The J1 Visa costs run to approximately $1000, including the trip to Melbourne for the interview at the US Consulate.

Funding

A principal aim of the Internship is to keep it within the financial reach of all students and to make this unique experience widely available. The goal is to raise approximately half of the total cost of the Internship from University sources and the private sector. University sources include the RA Simpson Scholarship and the new Commonwealth Overseas Short-Term Student Mobility Fund. In addition, Flinders University is exploring under its Strategic Plan (Strengthening Internationalisation) establishing a fund specifically for the Washington Internship and other Internship programs. Over the years, the Vice Chancellor of Flinders University and the Executive Deans of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences have generously supported the students selected to be Washington Interns.

Past interns have been resourceful in approaching local service organisations such as Rotary International, Zonta and Lions to secure individual support for their participation in the program. Some employers and unions have also been generous contributors for individual Interns.