Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 10, 1995

The Way I See It: Practical Education

By Steve Libowitz

     The Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies is taking time this
week to honor the undergraduates who have taken part in this
year's Urban Policy Internship Program.

     It's time worth making.

     Undergraduate internships are such a valuable part of an
undergraduate's education. Medical students complete their
education in mandatory internship programs, no doubt following
the sage adage that practice makes perfect. But because
internships are usually extra-curricular activities for
non-medical students, undergrads, especially, often are obliged
to spend some of their non-classroom time at jobs that help them
pay the rent.

     "What's so great about the institute's internship seminar is
you can get the practical education as part of the class, without
having to choose between money and education," says Josh
Greenberg, a sophomore from Oyster Bay, N.Y., majoring in the
Writing Seminars. 

     Students should be encouraged at every step along their
academic career to get real world experience. While it's
invaluable to hit the books, nothing beats hitting the streets,
wherever in the world they may be.

    Even more than volunteering, these opportunities give
students a chance to see firsthand the problems and promise of
various career paths they may be juggling in their mind.

     Greenberg knows that after graduation he wants to be, most
of all, an effective writer. But he's so not sure in what
profession he wants to apply it.

     "I'm interested in public policy, and I'm considering going
into law or graduate school in public policy or a think tank," he
says. "I just want to try as many things as I can before I have
to make a decision."

     It's a process that certainly beats job-hopping and

     "I wish I had had this kind of opportunity when I was in
college," says Bill Cunningham, a third district councilman from
Baltimore City, a researcher at the policy institute and
Greenberg's mentor this semester. "I might have stayed out of
politics," he laughs.

     Internships also benefit those, like Councilman Cunningham,
who take on the students. And they most often get out of an
intern what they put in.

     "The internship I offer in this course is definitely not
just clerical," Cunningham says. "I'm staff poor down at City
Hall, and the interns I have been lucky to have from Hopkins
allow me to pursue issues important to me. Their work becomes the
foundation for legislation I introduce in the City Council. They
are my auxiliary staff."

     This semester, Greenberg developed a survey to find out what
is and is not working in the city's Enterprise School initiative,
a program that makes principals, rather than the central school
administration, responsible and accountable for the management of
their schools.

     "I had to call all the principals and conduct the survey,"
Greenberg says. "Now I'm tabulating the responses. And depending
on the results, I think Bill expects to use this to propose
legislation. That's pretty exciting for me."

     Josh Greenberg feels he is getting more from the internship
because it is part of his seminar. "I get to do the work downtown
and then talk about it in the classroom," he says. "It's exciting
to be a 20-year-old and to be able to walk around City Hall, see
the mayor. And it makes the week a lot more interesting, too."

     He plans to do an internship each fall, spring and summer.
He figures by the time he graduates, he'll have a real sense of
not just the kind of work that might suit him, but also the sort
of place he'd like to work. 

     He also knows he will have made important contacts in the
real world to complement the academic connections he will have
made after four years at Hopkins.

     "It all fits together for me," he says. "It's all important
for a total education."

     That kind of sense is certainly worth celebrating.

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