Indiana State University Newsroom

Sycamore spends summer witnessing history

July 2, 2014

Indiana State student Julian Winborn has spent his summer watching history happen as a communication and legislative policy intern at the statehouse.

“To actually be on the inside — where all that is happening — is amazing,” said Winborn, a “political junky” and award-winning columnist.

Winborn is an avid reader of all things political and all the major periodicals — New York Times, Wall Street Journal — so imagine his thrill when he realized there were journalists from these esteemed newspapers in the same room, reporting on Indiana health care initiatives, for example.

“It’s a completely different thing when those people are in the room,” said Winborn, a rising senior from Hobart. “Just being around when these types of events are going on is really exciting.”

The Governor’s Public Service Summer Internship program was created in 1989, according to the website, “to introduce bright and motivated college students to the operations and officials of state government,” in areas including engineering, business, communications, finance and biology.

Winborn described the application process as routine: He submitted a resume, four writing samples and two letters of recommendation and participated in two rounds of interviews.

“Julian has been an inquisitive and energetic addition to our team during his internship. We have a hard time finding enough work for him to do, because he is always eager to help out and completes what we give him very efficiently,” said Jim Gavin, director of communications and media at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. “I believe we have found a very wide range of activities for him, so he can experience life in a large state agency, as well as contribute to the cause.”

During the eight-week stint, a typical day was never typical. He might help record a video with the governor, write a quick article or copy for the government website, copy edit someone else’s work or answer constituent queries.

“It’s a mixed bag — there’s no general format for how my day goes,” he said.

One feature of his workload is consistent: meetings.

“For the most part, I have so many meetings with so many people that it’s really hard to keep track of my work,” he said. “Things pile up really quick. I guess that’s what the real world is like.”

Gavin agrees: “Hopefully his time here, albeit brief, will help him understand the basic inner workings of government. I suspect he learned that it’s not as glamorous as many political science students would think; however, the universe of ‘moving parts’ in an agency like ours is immense.”

After making connections with so many movers-and-shakers, Winborn said he realizes he needs to build off these experiences.

“Having an opportunity like this, you can’t let your momentum go cold. This summer, I’ve met a lot of important people in Indiana government,” Winborn said. “I can’t just quit and go back to working at McDonald’s.”

Winborn set out to have a substantive internship this summer — not getting coffee, making copies or “organizing paper clips.” That ability to set goals and having the drive to achieve them is something Winborn’s advisor, Mike Chambers, has come to expect.

“This summer internship has placed him perfectly to engage both of his interests: He works on political communication (generally) and on public policy issues related to social services. So this is precisely the type of experiential learning that Indiana State has in mind for its students: experiences that help them connect what they learn in the classroom to what takes place in the ‘real world,’” said Chambers, professor and department chair of political science.

With mid-term elections around the corner, Winborn has a plethora of options during his senior year — and beyond.

“Honestly, I’m thinking about campaign work. We have a mid-term election coming up. And I’m looking into grad programs. I kind of don’t know, but I know it has to be something good,” he said.  

Chambers is confident Winborn will do whatever he sets his mind to, especially after being armed with the lessons of this internship.

“This has been a very educational experience for Julian, one that is helping him to grow and mature intellectually and politically. He has gained valuable insight into the public policy process through his work,” Chambers said. “He has been exposed to the spectrum of ideas that can be offered to solve a single policy issue. And he has learned how to engage and work with people whose political values and beliefs don’t fully align with his own. Whether he becomes a journalist or a public policy specialist, understanding other viewpoints — as he has learned in this internship — will help him to succeed.”


Photos: -- Indiana State student Julian Winborn is a communication and legislative policy intern at the statehouse this summer.

Contact: Mike Chambers, professor and department chair of political science, 812-237-2515 or

Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or