Truman Bootstrap Award

The Truman Bootstrap Award introduces undergraduate students interested in public service to the national policy process through a nine week-long immersion experience with the Washington, D.C. offices of the Missouri Congressional delegation or other offices as appropriate.


Student interns will be assigned to governmental offices (legislative or administrative) and will work with identified mentors while there. The internship is to be completed during a full Summer Academic Session. Additionally, it provides the chance to meet and live with interns from the other UM campuses, meet UM officials when they travel to Washington and possible opportunities to meet with past Truman Center speakers who are based in Washington.

Other highlights of the internship are the opportunities to immerse oneself in the rich dynamic culture of our nation’s capital. Being an intern in Washington can be an exciting and rewarding experience, with an endless number of monuments and museums to visit, people from a variety of places to network with—and an amazing chance to involve oneself in the exciting and fast-paced daily life on Capitol Hill. To read more about our former interns and their life-changing experiences, visit the interns report archives.


The internships will be available to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Full-time status at UMKC as a junior, meaning junior standing with at least 60 hours earned at the start of Spring 2019, or senior—including seniors graduating in May or August 2019. Applicants must have at least 15 hours completed at UMKC prior to the start of Spring 2019.
  • Minimum UMKC GPA of 3.25; and
  • Any academic major provided the student has completed at least one Political Science course at the college level, prior to Spring 2019. Preference will be given to those students with a demonstrated interest in public service and civic leadership.
Application Process

Applicants are to submit an application that must contain:

  1. A 1-2 page essay describing the way in which this experience would fit into their academic program and career plans.
  2. A current resume.
  3. At least two letters of recommendation. At least one recommendation must be from instructors at UMKC. The second letter can come from an instructor or someone who knows the student outside the classroom – as an employee, community volunteer, athlete or from another role that the student has successfully fulfilled. Completed applications are due Friday, December 7, 2018.  Materials should be sent to Dr. Greg Vonnahme (  Questions? Contact Dr. Greg Vonnahme at 816-235-5948 or
Review and Acceptance

Applications will be reviewed by a committee associated with UMKC and the Truman Center. Applicants may be asked for an interview. Successful applicants will be notified no later than January 25, 2019.

Requirements for Participation

Students selected to participate in this internship opportunity will be required to do the following:

  • Attend at least two pre-departure meetings on the UMKC campus to discuss the required reading and the internship expectations;
  • Enroll for three credit hours at UMKC in a political science off-campus internship course (in consultation with the Political Science Department and the Truman Center) for credit during Summer 2019;
  • Upon returning to campus, interns will need to be prepared to discuss their experience with the media and at future Truman Center events as well as in a write up for the Truman Center website;
  • A graded reading and writing assignment will be required, with details in the course syllabus.

Participating students will receive 3 credits in Political Science upon successful completion of all requirements of the internship.

  • The UMKC faculty mentor will be one with expertise on the office or institution in which the student interns, will oversee the academic portion of the internship and will be appointed by the Director of the Truman Center. Interns will reside in approved UM system intern housing in Washington. Additional information will be provided after the interns are selected. Interns will be mentored in Washington by persons affiliated with the UM system in addition to those available in the offices to which they are assigned.
Cost and Scholarship Information

In celebration of Harry Truman’s legacy of public service UMKC and the Truman Center will provide a scholarship and other forms of assistance to each student to cover the following expenses associated with the internship:

  • We will purchase the required book; provide 3 credit hours of undergraduate educational fee remission at current UMKC rates for residents for Summer Session, 2019; pre-pay lodging; provide a $2,000 stipend for meals and incidental expenses; and purchase round-trip airfare (not to exceed $500).

The student interns will be responsible for any additional money they might need for transportation, living and other incidental expenses incurred (beyond those covered) while in Washington and for changes made to air itinerary after the ticket has been purchased.

Previous Interns

Bailey Hughes (Interned with Representative Lacy Clay, 2018)

What was a typical day like?

The typical day would be to open up the office at 9am (10am when we weren’t in session) we would turn on the phones and answer them until there was a briefing that we needed to attend. We also took meetings with constituents and lobbying groups which we would then write memos to send to the staffer in charge of the issue. Any day could range from one to three meetings, at least one briefing and when available we would attend hearings and markups.

Relatively few people have the opportunity to see Congress from the inside. Was it what you expected?

Seeing Congress function from the inside proved to be more than I anticipated. Attending Democratic Staff briefings and then the same hearings those briefings covered gave me a deeper understanding of the issues that were presented. The heated discussion, or perhaps, lack thereof, was surprising to me and my fellow interns.

Were there any moments that left a particularly strong impression?

After the Congressman Clay spoke at the Peter Strozk hearing we walked back to the office and all of the phone lines were on hold except for the line Ms. Karyn was talking to. All of the interns immediately got on the phones and started talking to the concerned callers. Each of us spoke to one particularly concerned, however, verbally abusive, constituent. Each time she would curse we would have to terminate the call until another intern finally forwarded her to Capitol police. Once the calls died down I went to a different office to pick up materials and when I came back the office doors were closed because Congressman Clay was taking the constituents call in the lobby. The call lasted fifteen minutes longer after I came back to the office.

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Anything you would definitely do the same?

If I were to do it again I would probably ask the Congressman more questions. Our office was small enough that I saw and interacted with Congressman Clay just about every day he was in the office.

You just spent 8 weeks working in Congress. What’s next?

After spending time in DC I wanted to try and change the composition of the House. I am currently working as a field organizer in Cass County to elect Renee Hoagenson as the representative for the Congressional 4th District of Missouri. In the future I plan to continue my activism as well as pursue a law degree.

Any final thoughts? Words of advice for future interns?

Attending hearings and briefings is the best way to understand what is going on and help the concerned constituents. It’s also a great way to make the most of the internship; you can meet plenty members by attending hearings as well. Take opportunities to explore the Capitol as well!

Matthew Salsbury (Interned with Senator Claire McCaskill, 2018)

What was a typical day like?

As a policy intern on a Senate committee, a typical day consisted mainly of ongoing research and writing projects for committee reports. For example, at any given time, I would have three-to-four ongoing projects for different senior staff members.  There would also be regular meetings and follow-ups with staff members to track progress and discuss future work.  Additionally, I was responsible for logging mail, answering phones, and giving the occasional capitol tour.  Something that I really appreciated was the breadth of issue areas that I was able to work with, some of which included public health, national security, and rural economic development.

Relatively few people have the opportunity to see Congress from the inside. Was it what you expected?

Going into my summer on the Hill, I had many preconceived ideas about what the environment would be like. I imagined that the atmosphere would be highly competitive and that the staff would be too busy to invest in their interns. What I found, however, was that everyone in the office looked out for the interns; helping us set up networking coffees, offering advice, and ensuring that we were able to work with the issue areas that interested us.

Were there any moments that left a particularly strong impression?

Throughout the summer, there were two moments that were particularly impactful for me. The first was an intern lecture hosted by Justice Elena Kagan.  Hearing justice Kagan give her perspective on judicial procedure, her personal nomination process, and the future of the court was eye-opening, and something I will never forget.  The second memory was seeing Senator John McCain lay in state.  Standing there under the rotunda of the Capitol, I was reminded of many great men and woman that once laid there, and I couldn’t help but feel this overwhelming and very rare sense of national unity.  These two experiences were not only uniquely DC, but also genuinely unforgettable.

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Anything you would definitely do the same?

If given a chance to do the summer again, I would make only one change. I would attend as many events on the Hill as possible.  During the eight-week summer session, there were countless event and receptions every night.  These events ranged mixers with the Missouri State Society, to after-hours receptions at the Smithsonian museums.  While these events provided a great way to meet and network with people on the Hill, they also offered some fun and uniquely DC experiences that you’ll never forget.

You just spent 8 weeks working in Congress. What’s next?

Since leaving the Hill, I’ve accepted a fellowship at a local nonprofit which works with higher education policy. Looking forward, I am exploring opportunities both on the Hill and in the nonprofit space; ideally working with health or education policy.

Any final thoughts? Words of advice for future interns?

My biggest take away, and number one piece of advice to anyone interning on the Hill and wanting to start a career in DC is to develop good relationships with the staff in your office. If your bosses and coworkers like you, they will often bend offer backward to make sure you reach your goals.

For information about earlier interns, please visit: