BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: College of Education intern delves into political psychology in D.C.
Louisiana Tech faculty members encourage students to seek and obtain internships in order to help them prepare for their career path after college. Many students take advantage of the various internship opportunities. This is the third part of a six-part series highlighting Louisiana Tech students and their internship experiences. He went from Minden, a Louisiana town of a little more than 13,000 people, to a city of more than 600,000. Louisiana Tech College of Education student Austin Vining spent his summer interning in Washington, D.C., working with Sen. Mary Landrieu and studying how social psychology relates to the political process. “I learned a lot about the legislative process and how much our senators do,” Vining said. “I respect them a lot, regardless of party affiliation. Everyone there is working hard for his or her constituents. It was annoying to see how hard it is and how long it takes to get new bills passed.” Vining is a psychology and journalism double major and will serve as editor-in-chief of The Tech Talk this fall. He said he was glad he was able to travel out of state for his internship. “Living in ‘The District’ was fantastic,” he said. “Born and raised in Webster Parish just 30 minutes away from Tech, I’ve lived in North Louisiana my whole life. Sure I’ve traveled, but it’s different when you live somewhere. You really get a chance to experience the culture and live like the locals. I can say without a doubt that I will be back in D.C.” Dr. Mary Margaret Livingston, Vining’s adviser, said she hoped his internship helped him determine his next step in life. “Austin was trying to decide between law school and graduate school, so I hope this helped clarify his thoughts of where to go next,” Livingston said. “A number of the projects he worked on impacted science and psychology, and one of the things that intrigued Austin was how social psychological issues apply in politics.” Though Vining’s competitive internship was unpaid, he said he learned invaluable information that he can use in his future. “My internship gave me insight into not only how the federal government works, but also allowed me to make some great connections,” he said. “You will hear it repeated over and over in D.C. that networking is essential, and I think I took advantage of that. Maybe I’ll end up back; who knows?” For the time, though, Vining said he is looking forward to implementing some of his knowledge he gained in Washington, D.C., at Tech. “I’ve already been talking to some friends about starting a local chapter of College Democrats at Tech,” Vining said. “There are a lot of different things I was able to experience in Washington that I have brought back to Ruston with me, such has recycling and healthier living.” He added that living in another state for the summer had allowed him to do experience many opportunities he wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. “I would highly encourage my peers to travel to their perfect internship,” Vining said. “No matter what your interests may be, there is something out there for you. It may be overwhelming to think about picking up and leaving everything, but that’s the point of an internship, you get to come back after a few months anyway. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”