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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Think tank hires student interns

Tuesday, February 26, 2008  
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By Katie Halstead

Seniors Melissa Mulkey, Elizabeth Patton and Travis Hughes, as well as junior Daniel McCormack were all picked for their outstanding characteristics to be interns at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

The OCPA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and research organization dedicated to free market policy and ideas located near the state capitol.

OCPA has several departments, including policy, development, marketing and operations. These students will be doing work for each department, sometimes individually and sometimes as a team.

Their wide range of duties may include performing basic clerical work (filing, answering phones, etc.), proofreading and editing publications, doing research on policy issues, writing blogs for OCPA's Web site, hand delivering publications to representatives and legislators at the capitol, helping plan events, spearheading a video contest for Oklahoma college students or working on various OCPA projects. Most of their day-to-day responsibilities consist of editing publications and coordinating fundraising efforts.

This is an opportunity for the students to see how the Oklahoma government operates.

"I'm interested to observe the goings-on of Oklahoma State government and excited about the possibility I'll have to contribute in a significant way," Mulkey said.

The internship is available to college students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate level classes at any area university. OCPA has internships for the fall and spring semesters and the summer every year.

These students' internship runs from early January to mid-May.

OCPA is well- known as a leader among state based think tanks and is also nationally recognized among its national sister organizations. There were many applicants for the competitive and prestigious internship. OCPA is not affiliated with Oklahoma Christian University.

"It was just happenstance that all the interns were from the same school," Patton said.

The application process began near the end of last semester. McCormack submitted a résumé and a writing sample. He had an interview and then a job offer several weeks later.

"The internship is a good way to become acquainted with the inner workings of the Oklahoma state government as well as gain experience and research skills," McCormack said.

Mulkey had an internship with former state auditor and Republican Party chairman Tom Daxon last semester. Her internship involved doing a lot of independent research for healthcare reform legislation. She didn't work at OCPA, but her work was under the direction of OCPA.

"I established a connection with the organization and found out about their internship program," Mulkey said. "I then applied and interviewed for the spring intern position."

The internship is designed to go beyond the typical paper-pushing some internships offer. This one is going to be very interactive. OCPA has created a program which is going to give the students vital experience, unique skills and understanding of not only what they do, but also how to make an affective difference in government.

"I am honored to have this internship opportunity," Patton said. "It will certainly give me a much desired edge on the career path I plan to take after I graduate in April." 

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