After graduation, Mike Liedtka, a senior majoring in political science with minors in economics and law and liberal arts, thinks he might want to be a lobbyist. The thrill of working at the intersection of business and politics has sparked his interest in the field. And this summer, Liedtka landed the perfect internship to further his career goals.

As an intern in the Washington, D.C. office of Ford Motor Co. Government Affairs, Liedtka helped advocate for Ford and influence the development of policy in Congress and the White House. He assisted lobbyists by performing research on issues and legislators, developed databases of legislation and attended hearings on Capitol Hill.

“The internship represented exactly what I wanted to accomplish this summer,” said Liedtka, who is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the Richmond College Honor Council. “I really wanted experience with a government relations group or lobbying firm, and the auto industry is also such an important part of our economy. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Liedtka found the internship through the University’s D.C. Initiative program, which connects eligible students with summer internship opportunities offered by alumni and friends of the University. The program also offers career development seminars and networking events with alumni in the D.C. area.

Pete Lawson, R’87, vice president of government relations at Ford, was instrumental in securing an internship position for a Richmond student.

“With so many Richmond alumni living in the Washington, D.C. area, we thought an internship in our office would provide a great opportunity for a current student to learn about our industry while also developing relationships with the extensive network of Spider alumni,” Lawson said. “The University of Richmond has an outstanding reputation, and we felt fortunate to have one of the students in our office this summer.”
 
In addition to being able to show Liedtka the ins and outs of government relations, having a Richmond intern allowed Lawson to stay up-to-date on the latest campus news and developments. Liedtka and Lawson were able to compare notes on their experiences at Richmond and their internship and job searches.

“I have enjoyed talking to him about his days at Richmond, politics and the future of the auto industry,” Liedtka said.

By connecting with alumni who help make DCI internships possible, Richmond interns in Washington, D.C. find that the Spider network extends well outside campus.

“There are so many Richmond students interning in D.C., and there are many recent Richmond graduates in the city as well,” Liedtka said. “Almost every other day, I run into someone I know from Richmond on the metro.”