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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Why D.C. wants all the Aggies

Ethan Mattson
There continues to be an increase in Aggies working in D.C. The PPIP program at A&M is one instrumental program for students to shape their careers. (Graphic by Ethan Mattson/The Battalion)

More Aggies are calling Washington, D.C. home than ever with the aid of programs like the Public Policy Internship Program, or PPIP. The program places students in internships in D.C. and provides housing.

Materials science and engineering master’s student Mason Shoalmire is an intern with the program. Shoalmire said the process he went through before the internship made him feel highly prepared for his time in D.C.

“We had to provide writing samples, resumes and letters of recommendation,” Shoalmire said. “From there, once I was selected, I went through trainings and was able to meet everybody else who’s going to be in the program.”

Through PPIP, Shoalmire said he was able to get connected to an internship firm and was provided with housing.

“They also told me all about D.C. and [PPIP] was able to help me find an internship, the internship I’m doing is with Bose Public Affairs which is an advocacy firm,” Shoalmire said. “But overall, they helped because in the firm, they had Aggies as well which helped me get a connection with that. The other big benefit is the provided housing here in D.C. that we all stay in.”

From Shoalmire’s experience in D.C., he said employers value Aggie interns for being reliable and qualified individuals.

“D.C. employers really like Aggies, but one of the big things I’ve noticed as a benefit of PPIP is the application of the program weeds out a lot of interns who aren’t really well-qualified,” Shoalmire said. “So when you apply for these internships with PPIP, generally they know that they’re going to get pretty good quality material and good quality workers.”

Recruitment and outreach coordinator for A&M’s policy internship programs James B. Palacios, Class of 2017, is an alumnus of the sister program of PPIP, the Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Internship Program.

Palacios said the employers in D.C. specifically look for the qualities that A&M teaches its students when hiring new employees.

“One of the core values of A&M is selfless service,” Palacios said. “When you look at selfless service, Washington, D.C., our federal government embodies that quality … that’s why you see a lot of Aggies going into D.C. to fulfill that mission of public service.”

Palacios said he learned going to D.C. as an Aggie can change one’s whole career path.

“It’s really exciting to see our interns surrounded by a cohort of other interns, but know that they’re also supported by this wider, larger Aggie network in Washington … the Aggie network is strong in D.C. and continues to get stronger,” Palacios said. “Through the program and going to D.C. with other Aggies, it became a pivotal moment in my life that helped me choose my career and determine what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Shoalmire said the program has given him a unique experience as compared to other interns.

“Since I already have an undergraduate degree, which is something that a lot of internship places like, I have generally more experience, which made the application process a bit easier for me,” Shoalmire said. “If you look at the intern pool, you’ll notice that a lot of them are undergrad students, not grad students, so with my experience, it’s been very useful for all of this work.”

Although Shoalmire is not the typical intern with a political science background, he said he’s been able to learn useful skills and make important networking connections that will help him in any field of work he decides to pursue.

“I actually have a job lined up where there’s a lot of cutting-edge research, and the federal government is one of the biggest funders of materials research,” Shoalmire said. “So, I wanted to get a look at the other side of how they decide who to fund, where to fund and what the processes are that take place. Overall, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve gotten to write, I’ve met lots of people and I have learned a lot about public strategies for changing policies.”

Through networking, Shoalmire said he will be able to use the connections that he’s made all throughout his career.

“Even though I’m not going directly into policy, being able to network with people in government and 10 years down the future, knowing them, it’s going to be helpful,” Shoalmire said. “If I want to either move into doing work with the government … they’ll be able to help me out with projects that I might have that are government-related.”

Professor Kirby Goidel, Ph.D., said A&M prides itself on making sure every student feels prepared and part of something greater than themselves, especially when it comes to public service.

“The way that A&M creates a sense that you are part of a community — that’s part of what makes it special. And that community, the idea that you’re part of something larger than yourself and that you are supposed to play a special role in the world — wow, that’s powerful,” Goidel said.

Goidel said being an Aggie equips one to work in public service jobs.

“I think A&M’s public service mission and its commitment to value-based, or Aggie values and traditions, has taught us that we also have responsibility for others, and that’s a very public service-oriented mission,” Goidel said.

Palacios said being an Aggie intern makes one stand out to employers compared to other university interns.

“If you ask any hosting office in Washington, D.C. who has had an Aggie intern, they will tell you about the incredible experience they had hosting one of our students and how hardworking they are,” Palacios said.

Goidel said that in order to make an impact and continue encouraging students, there must be encouragement for individuals to go through the program.

“If you ask people about politics as a word, they often respond to it negatively. But the bigger definition of politics includes public service, and we want everyone to come through our program to engage in public service,” Goidel said.

Palacios said students need to continue getting involved in public service and similar programs because it’s the only way they’ll be able to enact real change.

“What we are trying to do is help students make those connections to their degree, we’d like to always say, from Kyle Field to Capitol Hill, that’s how Aggies impact policy,” Palacios said. “For the last 35 years, we have been sending students on these internships almost every semester to get this experience. We look forward to the opportunity to grow into the future and continue to send really great students to our locations in Austin, D.C. and abroad.”

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About the Contributor
Stacy Cox
Stacy Cox, News Writer
Stacy Cox is a freshman majoring in Sociology, minoring in Women & Gender Studies and earning a certificate in Legal History. Stacy is from New Braunfels, Texas, and she started writing for The Battalion in November 2023. After graduation, Stacy intends to earn a law degree and pursue a career in law and public service.
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    David R CalvertApr 24, 2024 at 9:08 am

    WOW!! From the website of the Bose Group mentioned in the story:
    “Bose Public Affairs Group is a fully integrated public affairs firm dedicated to successfully navigating clients through the many pathways of political, legislative, regulatory, communications and media environments. Our reputation is built on results, achieving the outcomes clients expect through experience, leadership, relationships and discipline.
    With offices in Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., and Fort Wayne, our veteran team of professionals carries an array of accomplished backgrounds in all levels of local, state and federal government, as well as the private sector.
    State & Local Government Affairs – We help our clients leverage the “laboratories of democracy” by conducting local, single state and multistate campaigns to engage and influence policymaking in municipalities, state legislatures and state agencies. We are a member of The Advocacy Group (TAG), a network of public affairs firms covering all 50 states.
    Federal Government Engagement – We devise and execute comprehensive strategies to professionally influence the federal legislative and regulatory processes on behalf of a wide range of corporate, philanthropic and civic sector clients.
    Multistate Government Relations – We have extensive experience managing local and national legislative and regulatory campaigns, whether your organization needs a government affairs strategy in one state or all 50 states
    Strategic Communications – We integrate comprehensive strategic communications support and practices into all of our public affairs strategies, including media relations and, as needed, crisis communications and reputation management.
    Strategic Business Services & Procurement – We help clients navigate the full life cycle of state and federal government procurement processes.
    Grassroots Advocacy – We employ state-of-the-art organizational tools and tactics for mobilizing grassroots and constituent-based advocacy efforts.
    PAC Management – We devise and execute return-maximizing political giving strategies and directly manage our clients’ PACs.
    Compliance – We help our clients comply with ever-changing state and federal laws governing lobbying disclosure, gifts, travel and political contributions.”

    What a bunch of non-informative Gobblety Goop!! Who are their Clients? What sort of “policy” “legislation” do they support? How much of my tax money do they get their hands on?
    The only good reason for any Aggie to go to DC is to help dismantle the devish thing – not grow it or “manage” it!!