In 2004, the Ford School’s newly launched Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) sponsored its first internship partnership with the City of Ann Arbor administrator’s office.
“Part of the center’s mission is to help bring the resources of the University of Michigan to bear on state and local policy, and to facilitate student learning and engagement with critical policy issues,” says Tom Ivacko, CLOSUP administrator, “so it was a good fit.” Graduate-level policy students would be able to help state and local organizations as they worked on emerging policy priorities, and those students would pick up new and important professional skills along the way.
Since 2004, CLOSUP has contributed $148,000 to support 28 such internship partnerships. CLOSUP-funded interns have served city leaders in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck, and Ypsilanti. They’ve also worked with county administrators, regional chambers of commerce, the state legislature, local nonprofits, and more.
Eight years ago, CLOSUP began to send interns to the Michigan Governor’s Office, as well. Since that time, CLOSUP has sent seven interns to gain experience in state government. All of these alumni now work in public policy, helping to craft and administer responses to pressing social challenges. They hold positions with the Center for Health Care Strategies, the Educational Achievement Authority of Michigan, Public Sector Consultants, the Institute for Social Research, the Governor’s Strategic Policy Office, and more.
Therese Empie, the most recent CLOSUP intern in Governor Rick Snyder’s Strategic Policy Office, is providing staff support for the governor’s infrastructure commission, universities summit, and education commission. For Empie, it’s been a tremendous opportunity to apply what she’s learned about policy, analysis, and politics to some of Michigan’s most urgent challenges. In addition to supporting emerging policy priorities, Empie has focused on ways to foster and improve citizen engagement in state-level policy decisions.
Previous interns in the governor's office have reported similarly substantive experiences. They conducted stakeholder analyses, state-by-state comparative analyses, program evaluations, statistical analyses, and more. Along the way, they explored a wide range of issues, including energy and environmental policy, economic development, education policy, health policy, and more.
“The Ford School is so appreciative of internship partnerships like the ones CLOSUP has funded for the past 12 years,” says Amy Johnson, assistant director of graduate career services. “They help us forge ongoing relationships with government agencies and not-for-profit organizations, and they offer an opportunity for our students to learn and grow, both personally and professionally, while helping state and local policy leaders.”