PSIP History / 50th Anniversary


Betsy Levine Lassar and Mike Posner had the idea for the Washington Internship Program and met with leaders on campus to propose it for students interested in public service internships.  They reached out to key people in senior leadership at the University who supported it, including Bill Audiss in Career Planning & Placement, Barbara Newell in the President’s Office, and U-M President Robben Fleming.

In Fall 1969, the students created a plan and budget to ask for funds of $9,000 to start it. The U-M football team went to the Rose Bowl and the Michigan Daily had an article in January 1970 that the Alumni Association had a $9,000 surplus from their trip to Pasadena.  Mike walked over to the Alumni Association, spoke with Director Bob Forman, and walked out with a check for $9,000 to start the Washington Internship Program! 

In his sophomore year, Mike traveled to DC and scouted out internships on the Hill (Phil Hart and Don Riegel), think tanks, NBC, and other employers. Students were very eager to participate and had 18-20 in the first group.  Since then, the program changed its name to the Public Service Intern Program and continued to grow, with approximately 3,000 students participating.  We have heard that applicants to the University of Michigan are writing their admission essays about PSIP. 

Mike Posner attended the PSIP Homecoming Reception in Fall 2018 and spoke about how proud he is that the intern program has flourished.  He said it was the most impactful thing he participated in during his Michigan days and learned a lot from it.  Both he and Betsy have had illustrious careers in the public sector and we are very proud of them! 

“It is so heartening to know that the internship program has influenced so many lives.”                   

            Betsy Levine Lassar, Chicago



Written by PSIP Student Coordinator Rahul Rokkam, 2021

U-M Public Service Intern Program  Highlights of 50 Years in a2 and DC

Transformative Experience:

~ PSIP offers valuable experiential learning opportunities to undergraduate students, connecting their academic learning to public service work

~ Program is housed in the University Career Center, offering lessons on job search strategies and tools, building career related skills, and how to connect with alumni and fellow students interested in the public service arena


1969   Students Betsy Levine Lassar and Mike Posner co-found the Washington Summer Intern Program, started with funds remaining from the U-M Alumni Association’s trip to the Rose Bowl

1972   Program grows each year, with 50 students landing internships in DC

1975   President Gerald Ford invites cohort to The White House, welcoming his fellow wolverines to DC in the Rose Garden on July 17

1980s Selective cohorts of 100 chosen from large pool of very qualified undergraduate students

2000s  DC Alumni Club engaged with PSIP and offers scholarship funds to students

2018   Create PSIP Endowed Scholarship to attract donations to help students afford living in DC during their summer internship

            Celebration of 50th year in Ann Arbor:  Public Service Career Panel, Homecoming football game, and Reception with students and alums

2019   ~ 3 PSIP alums serving in the U.S. House of Representatives:

                        Ted Deutch, Florida

                        Grace Meng, New York

                        Lauren Underwood, Illinois

~ Celebration with alums and 50th year cohort students at a Reception in Washington DC at GWU campus, where students have lived for 45+ years during their summer internships

PSIP Legacy:

~ PSIP is the oldest and largest DC-based summer intern program in the country

~ Students attend events and career sessions at DC area employer organizations & agencies

~ 3,000+ alums have been in the program , gaining their first exposure to public service

~ Alumni have ascended to corporate, education, and non-profit leadership across the US

~ 3 U.S. Representatives and 1 Pulitzer Prize winner among program alumni

~ Thousands of DC employers have hosted U-M interns

~ Incoming U-M students write admissions essays about future participation in the program

~ Alumni Mentors connect with and provide career advice to students while in DC

~ Donators contribute to the new PSIP Scholarship to enable students to afford interning in DC

~ Several PSIP marriages and multiple generations of families have participated in PSIP