WhitmanWayfinderGovernmentAndLawGovernment, politics, and public policy careers focus on governance, national security, foreign service, planning, regulation and administration at the local, state, and federal levels. The positions in this field enforce and determine policy through political systems and institutions, ensuring that fundamental rights are universally guaranteed. Courses in many departments can provide students with relevant background in environmental and educational policy, politics in America, international relations, economics, gender studies, and so much more.

Following an internship with the Office of Santa Cruz County supervisor Ryan Coonerty, Arthur Shemitz '17 said: 

"I'm glad I did this internship because researching issues such as cannabis policy and local procurement showed me that I could continue to use my academic research skills after graduation. I've spent four years learning how to write research papers, and my internship showed that the utility of those skills wouldn't cease the moment I graduated."

There are many clubs on campus that will allow you to explore your interests, stretch your skills, and make an impact in an area about which you're passionate. Contact the ASWC Club Director at aswc_clubdir@whitman.edu to learn more about current clubs or start your own.

Academic Affairs Governing Board

Alongside the provost and the dean of the faculty, two students sit on the Academic Affairs Governing Board to consider planning, policy, and procedures that affect academics. These students represent their peers in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.

Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC)

The term ASWC refers both to every student currently attending Whitman and to the student government comprised of elected officials who voice the concerns, support the projects, and fuel the passions of the student body.

ASWC Nominations

This committee of appointed and elected members interviews and selects students to hold positions on college committees and governing boards as well as campus media organization leadership. 

ASWC Oversight

Charged with ensuring that ASWC follows its own by-laws, this committee of appointed and elected members requires students to run fair, democratic elections and evaluate ASWC personnel without bias. 

ASWC Student Affairs

This committee, comprised of elected members of the ASWC senate, responds to student concerns by writing legislation that clarifies the bylaws, allocates money, or demonstrates the position of the student body to the administration.

Budget Governing Board

Working with the President's Advisory Committee and the treasurer of the college, two students (one nominated student in addition to the ASWC Finance Chair, who serves ex oficio) sit on the Budget Governing Board to create, discuss, critique, and implement the College's budget. This representative advocates for the student body in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.

Buildings and Grounds Governing Board

Two students sit on the Buildings and Grounds Governing Board to provide perspective on significant, long-term initiatives concerning structures, renovation, and upkeep. These students represent their peers in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.

Council on Student Affairs

Five students (and at least two alternates) work as a disciplinary body to make rulings on student infractions of school policy.

Diversity Governing Board

Two students sit on the Diversity Governing Board, where they engage in frank discussions about creating a learning environment that attracts and embraces a more diverse community. These students represent their peers in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.

Enrollment Governing Board

Two students sit on the Enrollment Governing Board and work with the Office of Admission to develop ideology, improve the admission process, increase retention, and evaluate financial aid systems. These students represent their peers in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.

General Studies Committee

Two students appointed to this committee recommend new courses, substantive changes in existing courses, and curriculum for the General Studies program.

Library Advisory Committee

The student appointed to this committee serves until graduation and makes policy recommendations regarding Penrose Library, archives, and collections. 

Power & Privilege

A day of presentations, discussions, and workshops, this annual event provides a space to learn about the hierarchies of power and the intersections of identity. Its scope and budget require extensive planning and many volunteers who care about social justice.

President's Budget Advisory Committee

The ASWC Finance Chair and three appointed students comprise this committee, which makes recommendations to the President's Council about the college's budget.

Student Life Committee

Six students serve 2-year terms and address non-academic or non-disciplinary matters relating to student life, often by recommending policy changes.

Student Life Governing Board

Two students sit on the Student Life Governing Board, where they work with the dean of students, provost, faculty, and president of the college to address the quality of life on campus. These students represent their peers in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.

Student Registrar Committee

Four students advise the Registrar's Office about course schedules and registration.

Student Technology Advisory Committee (STAC)

Three appointed students make policy recommendations regarding campus technology services and work with WCTS staff.

Whitman Events Board (WEB)

WEB is a volunteer-driven student committee funded by ASWC which plans a variety of campus-wide events. The WEB Campus Relations Coordinator manages student engagement efforts and increases campus awareness.

Community involvement helps students understand a broad range of issues and is becoming increasingly important in the eyes of many employers. For more ways to connect with local organizations, contact the Student Engagement Center in Reid Campus Center.

Whitman Teaches the Movement (WTTM)

This program trains students to teach about the 1960s civil rights movement in local schools. Using curricula developed by the Walla Walla Public School District and the Southern Poverty Law Center, WTTM increases tolerance and anti-discrimination education.

Spring Break Service Trips

Spring Break Service Trips are week-long volunteer opportunities that allow Whitman students to focus on a particular social issue outside of the Walla Walla community.


Summer Community OutReach trips allow students to explore Walla Walla before classes start through work with great nonprofits and community organizations in town. The excursions are student-led, pre-orientation service trips for incoming Whitman students. These trips allow new students to participate in community service projects in Walla Walla and get to know their fellow peers through hard work and lots of fun. SCORE participants volunteer at a primary service project each day and go on field trips to non-profits to gain an understanding of the social issues that affect our community.

Blue Mountain Action Council

BMAC exists so that low-income people in Walla Walla, Columbia, and Garfield counties are able to meet their essential needs. Their goals are that low-income people are employable, are food-secure, have affordable and safe housing, and have access to resources for protection of their rights and privileges. Further, they strive for public policy to address the needs of the low-income population.

Green Park Elementary Bilingual Program

Once a week students tutor children at Green Park Elementary School as they transition from learning only in Spanish to learning in English. Volunteers must be able to teach various subjects in Spanish, including math, reading, writing, and science.

Operations Crossroads Africa

Volunteer programs and cultural exchanges designed to promote understanding of Africa and the African Diaspora based on the belief that one can truly enter another culture only by living and working in it.

Fellowships and grants afford many students the opportunity to continue their learning beyond graduation in high-impact programs. For more information, please contact the Office of Fellowships and Grants in Reid Campus Center.

Boren Fellowship
The Boren Fellowship, as an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provides unique funding opportunities for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. Boren Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena. In exchange for funding, Boren Fellows commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

Bosch Foundation Fellowship
The Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program is a distinguished, transatlantic initiative that offers 15 accomplished Americans the opportunity to complete a comprehensive, professional, development program in Germany. The Bosch Fellowship is comprised of three main components: customized work placements, professional seminars, and German language training. Bosch Fellows work as consultants in their fields of expertise at leading public or private institutions in Germany. Also, Bosch Fellows participate in professional seminars, where they travel to meet and exchange ideas with the major figures across Germany and Europe. Before their work placements and workshops, Bosch Fellows participate in up to five months of language training with both private tutors in the United States and group classes in Germany.

Carnegie Junior Fellows Program
The Carnegie Junior Fellows Program selects 8-10 graduating seniors to serve as research assistants to senior associates-academics, former government officials, lawyers, and journalists from around the world to work on international affairs issues at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, DC.

Coro Fellowship
The Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs is a full-time, nine-month, graduate-level experiential leadership training program that prepares diverse, intelligent, and committed individuals for effective and ethical leadership in the public affairs arena. Unconventional by traditional academic standards, the Fellows Program is rigorous and demanding, an unparalleled opportunity for personal and professional growth. The Fellows Program is offered in Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and St. Louis.

Critical Language Scholarship (U.S. Dept. of State)
The Critical Language Scholarship institutes provide a fully funded, group-based, intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experience for seven to ten weeks for U.S. citizen undergraduate, master's and Ph.D. students. This program is part of a U.S. government interagency effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.
The levels that are available for each language include: Arabic, Persian (advanced beginning intermediate or advanced level); Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu, Swahili (Beginning, intermediate or advanced level); Chinese, Japanese, Russian (Intermediate or advanced level). The countries that are available to study in include: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, or others where the target languages are spoken.

Davis Fellows for Peace (Middlebury)
The Davis Fellowship is offered to 100 nominees in or to cover the full cost of summer language study from beginner to graduate levels. At the Middlebury campus, students can study Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, and Russian. At the Mills College campus, students can study Arabic, Italian, or Spanish. Davis Fellowship funds are limited and will be awarded on a competitive basis. The Financial aid forms are not required for the Davis awards. However, students are encouraged to apply for regular Middlebury College financial, which is awarded on a demonstrated-need basis, through the office of financial aid.

Echoing Green Fellowship
The Echoing Green Fellowship awards motivate social entrepreneurs seeking to address contemporary social issues in their community with funding and support for the Fellow's proposed organization. The Fellowship provides stipends for health insurance, professional development, and $80,000 for individuals or $90,000 for two-person partnerships. Fellows also receive access to technical expertise, pro bono organizations, a dedicated Echoing Green portfolio manager, and support from Echoing Green chaplains to help each Fellow grow and improve their organization. Through this Fellowship, Echoing Green also provides its Fellows with a community of like-minded social entrepreneurs, public leaders, and industry leaders including the Echoing Green network of nearly 700 Fellows, working in over sixty countries all over the world.

Truman Scholarship
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation awards a merit-based scholarship to college students who are going to pursue a pursue a career in government or elsewhere in public service. The Truman Scholars will receive up to $30,000 that can go towards graduate or professional school, participating in leadership development activities and will provide special opportunities for internship and employment within the federal government. Scholars are also required to work in the public service sector for three of the seven years that precede the funded graduate degree program, and those who fail to do so or lack proof of employment will be required to pay back any funds received along with interest.


To learn more about working on campus, visit the Student Employment page. We have general job search resources here. For employers committed to diversity and opportunities for minorities, visit workplacediversity.com, nemnet.com, and blackcollegian.com.

Industry Job Boards & Resources

Internships and on-campus employment are excellent for accumulating work experience, developing your narrative, and broadening your network. Note that the list below is not comprehensive. Check sites such as vault.com and internships.com for more opportunities.

To see what Government, Politics & Public Policy internships Whitman students have held in the past, check out the Whitman Internship Database and search "Government, Politics & Public Policy" or "Government & Law".

Studying away from campus is a fantastic way to learn more about the world, as well as an excellent experience upon which you'll draw throughout your academic and professional career. For more information, contact Off-Campus Studies in Memorial.

CIEE: Prague Central European Studies
The Central European Studies program in Prague, Czech Republic is intended for students who have an interest in the Czech Republic and Central Europe, as well as in the political, social, and/or economic transformation from state control to democratic market-based systems.
SIT: Serbia Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans
Through the SIT: Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosova - Peace and Conflict in the Balkans program, Whitman students can gain firsthand knowledge of peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and the struggle for human rights in Serbia, Bonsnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo.The program is based in Serbia, but students take educational excursions to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

AU Washington Semester Program
Whitman students who wish to learn about the U.S. government and national policy or engage in community organizing in the heart of the nation's capital may apply to attend American University's Washington Semester Program. Students obtain hands-on experience by participating in an internship as well as enrolling in a seminar course, which is often taught on location taking them behind the scenes in D.C. Washington Semester students also will choose location to conduct an in-depth research project project to enroll in an elective at American University.

IES: European Union Studies program
The IES European Union program is based in Freiburg, Germany. Students will participate in field study trips with a focus on the European Union to places such as Berlin, Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris, and Strasbourg. Participants also will take part in Model EU simulations and spring semester students will have the opportunity to intern after the program in either Freiburg (for those proficient in German) or Brussels.

SIT: Ecuador Development, Politics, and Languages
The SIT: Ecuador Development, Politics, and Language program analyzes the connections and interplay between language and power in Ecuador. Students will examine how language shapes politics and how different groups in Ecuador have used languages to instill, reinforce, subvert, and reinvent power relationships, both historically and today. Students participate in many educational excursions including a trip to the Galápagos where students study the discourses related to sustainability and tourism. Students produce a final Independent Study Project.

IES: Berlin Metropolitan Studies
The IES: Berlin Metropolitan Studies program provides students with an opportunity to use the thriving cultural and political center of Berlin as a case study in issues affecting major metropolitan areas. Students must enroll in a German language course, but all other instruction is in English. Field trips to Paris, France and St. Petersburg, Russia provide a comparative context for study; however, previous German language study is not required.

CIEE: Amman Language & Culture
The Council on International Educational Exchange's (CIEE) Language and Culture program based at the University of Jordan in Amman allows students to learn their Arabic while taking Middle East Studies courses in English. The coursework on the Language and Culture Program is supplemented by field excursions to sites throughout Jordan, guest lecturers, and community involvement through internships or volunteer opportunities.

CIEE: Senegal Language & Culture
Through CIEE, Whitman students may study a wide variety of subjects in the French-speaking, West African nation of Senegal. Students on this program will take French language and Wolof language courses, as well as three additional courses taught either in English or French. At the CIEE Center in Dakar, the coursework will focus on Africa in general, but specifically on Senegal. Students studying in Senegal will have the opportunity to supplement their studies with a for-credit internship.

Here are some possible post-graduate degrees pursued by people in government, politics, and public policy. Contact Gayle Townsend at townsegv@whitman.edu for additional information.

  • Master in Public Policy
  • Master in Public Administration
  • MS in Applied Political Science
  • Ph.D. in Politics and Policy
  • Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) otherwise known as law school (see the Wayfinder Law & Criminal Justice page to learn more)

Other Resources

Public Affairs and Administration - NASPAA is the membership association of graduate programs in public administration, public policy and public affairs.

Alumni in the Field

Log in to LinkedIn or Whitman Connect to learn about Whitman alumni with jobs in government, politics, and public policy.

Potential Job Titles

City Council Member
Foreign Service Officer
Policy Analyst
Special Forces Officer