The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) is the best kept secret at the University of Illinois at Springfield. It is hard to fathom why this is so. Arriving at the University more than 20 years ago, I was surprised to hear that such a program existed and wondered why I had not heard of it before. Turns out, I worked alongside many of the interns in various capacities over the years but never knew they were ILSIP interns or former ILSIP interns.
In the early 1960’s, Samuel K. Gove, a professor with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recognized the need for professional staff for the legislature. He made it his business to find the necessary funding and create the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program. Ten years later, when Sangamon State came into being, Professor Gove was quick to realize the importance of location for the internship program and ILSIP was transferred to Sangamon State University, now the University of Illinois at Springfield. The purpose of the program was and still is to provide opportunities for students and others with an interest in the legislative process to gain legislative experience and perhaps make policy making in its many forms a career. Of course, the legislature benefits from the constant influx of talent. The program is designed to welcome candidates from schools across Illinois and beyond. It is about building diversity within and through the legislative staff.
ILSIP is a graduate internship program, requiring applicants to complete their undergraduate degree prior to the start of the internship. Most candidates apply in March of their senior year but the program is not limited to students and often has graduates and other candidates seeking to transition from another career. Sponsored by the Illinois General Assembly, candidates from across the state and beyond are encouraged to apply. The purpose of the internship is experiential to gain knowledge and skills working with the legislature. Most pursue the internship as non-degree seeking students. Interns work full-time earning 2 credits for a foundational seminar in the fall semester and 2 credits of experiential credit in the spring which may be used toward a graduate degree. It is a paid internship. Currently, the intern stipend is $2,400 per month. The program covers tuition and fees including student health insurance.
When I became director of the program, I vowed to get the word out. To that end, I am introducing the ILSIP CHALLENGE. I am challenging you to tell 3 people about the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program. Share this wonderful opportunity with your students, family, friends, colleagues, other parents by talking about it in person, on the phone, Zoom, Facebook, Tweets, Snapchat…you get the idea. Let’s put an end to this best kept secret.
A webinar, Pursue a Legislative Internship: Former Interns Share the Perks is scheduled for Thursday, February 17 from 12 -1pm. To register, go to: https://go.uis.edu/ILSIP22
After this date, the webinar will be posted on the ILSIP website = Go.uis.edu/ILSIP, where you will find additional information about the internship and application process.
Take the ILSIP CHALLENGE, spread the word about this unique paid internship opportunity to those interested in gaining experience with the Illinois legislature.
Barbara Van Dyke-Brown has served as director of the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program since 2003. She is the co-author of Lobbying Illinois: How You Can Make a Difference in Public Policy (2003) and editor of the Almanac of Illinois Politics (2002 and 2004). As adjunct faculty, she taught for multiple years, an undergraduate seminar for legislative interns as well as an online graduate course, Political Action and Advocacy, designed specifically for the master level educational leadership curriculum. Before coming to UIS in 2000, Barbara accumulated almost a decade of legislative experience as lobbyist, public policy coordinator, and legislative staff. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Illinois State University and her Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Louisville. For Barbara, education, public service, and making a difference in the lives of others is a life-long pursuit.