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UC student set for insider’s view of Capitol Hill with international internship

Suzanne Lazaroo

19 December 2018: Jarred Synnott is looking forward to the view from Capitol Hill, as he prepares for an internship in the heart of Washington DC, immersed in the intricacies of American politics.

The Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Programme (UCWIP) will give Mr Synnott – a full-time public servant and student at the University of Canberra – a new perspective on policy making, filtered through the lens of politics.

“I grew up in Canberra, so I’ve been immersed in political culture my whole life,” Mr Synnott said. “I’m really excited to have the opportunity to gain this kind of valuable experience, especially in a place with such a dynamic political scene.”

“It’s always an interesting time to be in Washington. But now, with the mid-term results seeing the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, and the Republicans extending their majority in the Senate, it’s going to be particularly exciting.”

The youngest of four siblings, all of whom have served in the Australian Public Service, Mr Synnott works on policy and legislation at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

He is also currently pursuing a Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations, after attaining a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2016, both at the University of Canberra.

The prestigious UCWIP program, held annually, sees students from just nine Australian universities apply to be matched with personal and committee offices in the US House and Senate. Between 12 and 14 students are selected for each January/February program.

Created in Washington, DC by American Eric K Federing AM in 1999, the pro bono program is non-partisan, with interns matched to offices of both Democrats and Republicans.

The important thing is the fit for both intern and congressional host office, says Mr Federing, a former senior congressional advisor and currently Managing Director, Business and Public Policy, Office of Government Affairs, KPMG LLP.

“The program focuses on enabling meaningful exchange, and so it’s very personalised. I look to detect close matches between interns and their prospective offices, in terms of interests, values, ambitions, personality,” Mr Federing said.

Mr Synnott will be interning with Democratic Congressman Mark DeSaulnier of California.

“He’s a very grassroots politician, who is very involved with his constituents and spends a lot of time listening to them,” Mr Synnott said. “I’d like to think we share a lot of interests, such as education and the workforce.”

“Jarred made a very sophisticated and compelling case in his application, a tribute to him and his clarity of purpose,” Mr Federing said. “Congressman DeSaulnier himself has taken a personal interest in the Australians he’s welcomed, which included at least one also visiting his California district.”

Mr Synnott will be leaving Canberra in late December for the two-month internship.

“After the internship, I’ll be doing a bit of travel in the US, visiting New York and maybe some other states,” Mr Synnott said. “I’ve only been out of Australia twice in my life. It’s a once in a lifetime chance, to see a country like the US, from within.”