The gov­ernment shutdown is keeping several stu­dents with the Wash­ington-Hillsdale Internship Program from starting their intern­ships with the federal gov­ernment. Wiki­media Commons

The federal gov­ernment shutdown is keeping some stu­dents in the Wash­ington Hillsdale Internship Program from starting their intern­ships.

Stu­dents who par­tic­ipate in the program typ­i­cally intern full time while taking evening classes. While some stu­dents are interning at private orga­ni­za­tions, 10 are employed by gov­ernment agencies, including the Secu­rities and Exchange Com­mission and the State Department. Six fur­loughed stu­dents are waiting out the shutdown with work for the Kirby Center.

“We’re doing great at the Kirby Center and taking each day as it comes,” Cassidy Syftestad, internship program coor­di­nator, said in an email.

Junior Madeline Hedrick was set to work in the State Department as part of the career tran­si­tions team. At first, Hedrick didn’t hear from anyone in the department and didn’t know if she still had work.

“I was going to have a tem­porary internship at the Kirby Center,”  Hedrick said. “But if the shutdown went on for months, what was I going to do? I was really freaking out. It was a miracle nobody got frus­trated with me.”

This past Sat­urday, Hedrick heard from her super­visor who said she could come into the office. She went back on Tuesday, which was the office’s first day back at work in over a month.

“My department has a pocket of money that will keep us going for two weeks,” Hedrick said. “The part of the State Department that does ori­en­ta­tions is still closed. I’m not ori­ented, and I don’t have my gov­ernment ID. I have to be signed in as a guest.”

After her first day, it was up in the air whether Hedrick would be able to return. For now, she’s riding out the two weeks of funding with the rest of the department.

“I really hope the gov­ernment reopens,” she said. “We’re doing a month-long retirement seminar in March. If we’re gone again in Feb­ruary, we can’t put that together.”

Hedrick is the only fur­loughed gov­ernment employee that is back at work. Junior Jackson Frerichs secured a position at the Security and Exchange Com­mision in the division of cor­porate finance. He was notified over break that the SEC internship program was sus­pended indef­i­nitely because of the gov­ernment shutdown. Frerichs spent his first few days updating dif­ferent alumni pro­files and ver­i­fying their contact infor­mation. Now he and other stu­dents are cur­rently doing research projects for Matthew Spalding, asso­ciate vice pres­ident and dean of edu­ca­tional pro­grams for the Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center.

“I’m looking into Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt and his religion,” Frerichs said. “What was he actually? It’s a lot less prominent than other pres­i­dents.”

Once the stu­dents are done with their research, they are to submit a memo to Spalding that syn­the­sizes the infor­mation they’ve gathered.

“Everyone is crossing their fingers that shutdown will end,” Frerichs said. “The Kirby Center seems fully equipped to make this a full-time internship.”

Frerichs expe­ri­enced how the shutdown is affecting D.C. firsthand when he went to visit his brother in Bethesda, Maryland.

“I took the metro and he picked me up,” Frerichs said. “He said the drive usually takes about 20 minutes, but because of the shutdown it took about six. There are def­i­nitely shorter com­mutes. The drivers are happy about it.”

Hedrick said just lis­tening to her coworkers talk about their month off gave her a dif­ferent per­spective on the shutdown.

“My coworkers were talking about what they had done for a month off,” Hedrick said. “Some cleaned their attics and base­ments; others had trips that were prescheduled. They had to come up with some­thing to do, and there’s a lot of doubt about whether they’ll receive back pay. I’m seeing the tan­gible effects. Even without the pol­itics, there’s such a tragic human aspect to it.”