The five university consortium differs from traditional internship programs because it is designed specifically for underrepresented students: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans (or Pacific Islanders), and American Indians. Historically, these groups have been underrepresented in the process of shaping and implementing public policy.
Once selected to participate in the program, students are placed in one of the following internship tracks:
The legislative branch of government is instrumental in shaping public policy through the creation of legislation, appropriation of funds, regulation of executive agencies, as well as the power to oversee government agencies. A legislative internship will expose students to how the public agenda is determined through the framework of representative democracy and consensus building, particularly in the area of competing agendas and resources.
This track represents the implementation aspect of public policy. This includes government agencies within the executive branch of government and the many organizations structured to assist with implementing public policy solutions.
The private sector is also instrumental in addressing public policy issues. At times, private sector interventions can address market failures and the limitations of government. Furthermore, many issues would be unlikely to become part of the public agenda without media attention. Consequently, it is the media that influences the public awareness of policy issues, thereby shaping the items on the public’s agenda.