1. My Experience as a PSIP Student in 1972

    Mark Rivett posted May 22, 2019

    Mike Waring, LS&A ‘74

    Director, U-M Washington Office

    Michael WaringAfter two years at Michigan as a journalism major, I heard about and was accepted into the Public Service Intern Program for the summer of 1972. As a resident of the DC suburbs, having a summer internship in DC was very convenient. I would just take the bus into the city each day from home, or drive one of my parents’ cars on occasion. While the commute was usually not too bad, I unfortunately did not get to meet the other PSIPers who were living together, including (unbeknownst to me) my current boss at Michigan. Small world.

    Regardless, my experience working in the newsroom of WTTG-TV was amazing. I was able to help assemble stories for their noon newscast, and also help with things like graphics. I watched a presidential statement and then worked with the technical people to pull off a piece that would be shown on-air. I even got asked to go with a camera crew on two occasions and ask questions of interviewees from off-camera…a practice which halted once the union shop steward found out.

    Anyway, that experience helped confirm my career path in TV/radio news and helped lead to my first job in broadcasting after graduation. There were some big events that occurred that summer, most notably Tropical Storm Agnes which hit the DC area with heavy rain and flooding. There were numerous fatalities and millions of dollars in property damage. One day, I hitched a ride to work with another employee of the station who lived near my family because many of the bridges and roads into the city were blocked. It was an exciting time.

    One of the anchors for the noon news was Maury Povich, the son of the famous Washington Post sportswriter Shirley Povich. He later went on to national syndication with his tabloid shows, but he was a sports and newscaster when I knew him. The news director at the station was Ed Turner, who later became one of the founding editors for CNN in Atlanta. I learned a lot about news from seeing them make decisions and frame their stories. It was a great time for a young person to watch and learn, and besides working at the U-M campus radio station, it was my first real job in the news business.

    While I have since left news and gone on to policy and lobbying, the skills I learned in the news business have served me well. The ability to write quickly and concisely – the ability to become an instant expert on a topic – the ability to speak in front of others and communicate. All of those skills I was able to hone thanks to the initial work I did through the PSIP program.

    I know that PSIP can be a life changer for students who have a good experience. It clearly was for me. Thanks to PSIP for giving me a great start on what has been a fun and exciting career.

  2. Diane Drago PSIP Internship Experience

    Mark Rivett posted January 9, 2019

    By: Diane (Swies) Drago

    Public Service Internship ProgramThere are no coincidences in life, just opportunities which provide you with choices that can lead to life-altering decisions. While a chance meeting with a U.S. Senate staffer on the night of a primary election seemed inconsequential at the time, this encounter eventually led to an unexpected career path. A paid position on that campaign staff later became the pathway to being selected for that UM internship program two years after the chance meeting.

    Fast forward two years to a normal walk through Michigan’s campus the spring before my December graduation. Applying for the internship was the result of noticing a poster on campus and thinking that Washington, DC would be a fun place to spend that last summer before graduation from Michigan’s School of Education.

    I was selected for the internship by the Congressman from Ann Arbor (Marvin Esch) primarily because his administrative assistant (staff director) knew the person I worked for on the U.S. Senate campaign. That person (who I had not seen or heard from since that campaign) thankfully gave me a good recommendation.

    The internship led to being hired by that Congressman after graduation from UM…which led to 12 years in DC, getting married and ultimately, laid the groundwork for staring my own conference and event management firm back in Michigan.

    No coincidences, just a series of choices that offer opportunities on which I decide to act. And that internship ultimately became a pivotal part of my life, although I didn’t realize it in that moment.
    – Diane Drago

    Assigned to the only floor of the Georgetown University dorms that had no air conditioning. The heat—and finding ways to beat it—led to great friendships. The best of which was a girl who became a lifelong friend—after she asked to borrow the Cosmopolitan magazine I was reading. We spent the summer exploring DC and stayed friends.

    All the interns were nervous about how their assignments would turn out. I was extremely fortunate to have been placed in Congressman Esch’s office. He and his staff were welcoming and inclusive. I learned both the mundane and fascinating facets of a Congressional office, which was very helpful once I was hired by that office after graduation from Michigan.

    I was able to follow certain pieces of legislation by attending committee meetings and following the progress on the House floor in a few instances. I answered the phones, met and helped escort constituents on visits to the Capitol, read and helped respond to legislative mail—the job for which I was eventually hired.

    I was thrilled when asked to write an article for the Congressional Record on behalf of the Congressman. I still have the original. Other interns and I were be able to attend receptions on behalf of the Congressman—free food and great contacts! Of course, we realized later that we were doing the staff have a favor, so they could go home to their families!

    President Gerald Ford

    38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford meets with PSIP interns in the White House Rose Garden. President Ford graduated from Michigan in 1935 with a Bachelor in economics.

    We were given many opportunities to attend special events and lectures. Because of Congressman Esch’s personal relationship with President Ford, he was able to arrange a private visit to the White House and Rose Garden for all the UM interns. That was not the case for non-UM interns we met.

    One of the lectures we were to attend was particularly memorable—not because of the lecture, but what it ultimately led to. Interns were invited to attend a lecture by then Congresswoman Bella Abzug of New York, who was known to be quite a character. It was at the Library of Congress, which sounded interesting enough. When we went to the Library, we instead found police barricades because a movie scene was being shot there. I’m guessing the Congresswoman’s lecture had many fewer interns in attendance than planned. Instead, we watched Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman shoot the scene from All the President’s Men where they run up the stairs of the Library to do research. Every time I see the movie and that scene, I think of one of the highlights of that summer!

    In retrospect…

    I was too young at the time to realize how those two chance occurrences—on a primary election night and a walk through campus—would help shape the decisions I would make about the course of my life.
    – Diane Drago

    The UM internship program was certainly pivotal in my life. The education, lasting friendships, professional contacts and opportunities it provided are priceless. Today, I continue to highly recommend it and similar programs to young people. Take advantage of the opportunities presented in life—you’ll never know where the decisions you make about those opportunities might lead unless you take a chance.

    Celebrate the 50th year at the Alumni Reunion Reception in Washington, D.C.

    Thursday, June 13, 2019
    6:00 – 8:30pm
    City View Room, George Washington University campus
    Washington, D.C.

    For additional information or questions, contact PSIP Supervisor Lynn Halton

    Support future PSIP interns through the new PSIP ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP

    The University Career Center has created a new scholarship to fund U-M students’ ability to afford interning in DC through PSIP. Currently, our interns report the cost of working in DC for the summer is over $5,500. Please consider donating to this newly established scholarship to cover the cost of student housing, transportation and living expenses. You know personally that PSIP is a transformative experience that should be available to any Michigan student, regardless of socioeconomic status.

    If you have any questions about this scholarship fund or giving to PSIP, please contact Kyle Nowels on the Student Life Development team.

    You may also consider giving online at: www.giving.umich.edu/give/700531.

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