Liberal arts & sciences at work: Trent Allen interns in Washington D.C.

Trent Allen with Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education

Hometown: Beloit, Kansas

Majors: Political Science & Economics

Internship title and company: Office of Postsecondary Education Intern, United States Department of Education

What are your responsibilities? 

I work full-time, and the majority of my time is spent either conducting research on higher education to be used by my supervisors in their work or reviewing grant materials that have been submitted by colleges and universities to ensure they are eligible for the grants they are applying for.

What is your favorite part of the internship? 

My favorite part of my internship has to be the people I work with. The diversity of backgrounds and opinions makes for an exciting and educational environment that has probably had a bigger impact on me than the work of the internship itself. I have also really enjoyed the weekly seminars that KU hosts with various KU grads that work for various organizations throughout DC.

What are you gaining from the experience that will be valuable to you in the future? 

I am gaining valuable office experience by learning the skills it takes to be successful in an office setting. I am also learning what I like and what I dislike about working in such a setting, which will be invaluable when I am looking for jobs after I graduate next year. Along with the experience I am gaining, though, I am also meeting many individuals with similar interests who are serving as valuable mentors to me now, and will continue to do so after I leave the Department.

KU’s interns in Washington D.C. visit the Podesta Group. Trent Allen is second from the left.

How did you find out about this internship? 

I decided early on in the fall semester leading up to my internship that if I was going to learn about education policy implementation there would be nowhere better to work than the Department of Education, so I went on their website, found their internship page, and just applied! My internship is part of KU’s great Washington, D.C. internship program, which helps students find an internship if they are unsure of the path they want to take. KU also has an agreement with an apartment complex in the D.C. area to provide housing which saves interns a lot of time and money; and there are also a few scholarships given out by KU to subsidize some of the costs.

What advice would you give students who are considering an internship? 

Apply! If you are thinking about an internship then do the research and apply. If you get the opportunity to participate in an interview then you can learn in the interview whether you would be suited for the job, and even if you end up not taking the position you will still gain valuable writing and interview experience along the way.

How did your majors and your time at KU prepare you for this internship?

My majors have prepared me very well by sharpening my analytical skills and exposing me to many different issues and ideologies. It has also helped me become a better writer and a much more organized person, which I believe are two skills critical to being successful after graduation. Also, the many off campus organizations have been very impactful, specifically the Dole Institute of Politics (DIOP). The DIOP’s dedication to promoting civic engagement has been a major influence in my passion for education and my respect for public service.

What do you want to do after graduation? 

After I graduate, my plan is to work for a couple of years, probably in Washington, D.C., before attending graduate school. Although I am not entirely sure of the exact path I want to take, my ultimate goal is to help others by working in politics, whether it be on a local, state, or national level.


Images courtesy of Trent Allen.