Signature Programs

The Center for Career and Professional Development has developed and coordinates several signature programs.  Please click on the name of each program below to learn more.

Capitol Hill Internship Program

The Capitol Hill Internship Program is a program developed in collaboration between the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success, Dr. Lowell Davis, the Center for Career and Professional Development, and the Dean of the Political Science Department, Dr. Chris Cooper in 2018.  This program was developed to help students find and complete internships on Capitol Hill by providing a stipend to assist with living costs, as well as support in finding and applying to internship opportunities.  Internships are a key experience employers look for on a resume, according to a survey of employers from the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012. In fact, a 2017 study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers listed internships as one of the top two indicators of success in initial career outcomes for graduating seniors. Internships provide a great opportunity for hands-on work experience, career exploration, networking, and professional growth. Unfortunately, many great internship opportunities are unpaid, creating a barrier for many of our students. Due to the prohibitive cost of housing, food, and transportation in DC, this program was intentionally designed to provide students with much-needed financial support to assist them with gaining invaluable experience that they might otherwise not have been able to obtain.

Potential participants in this program must:

  • Attend an information session, which discusses the benefits of interning on Capitol Hill, resume, cover letter, and interviewing best practices, and key information about the program
  • Submit an application to the program (participants are selected through a competitive selection process)

Selected participants will also complete the following:

  • Letter of acceptance from the representative
  • Final reflection
  • Final evaluation from the internship supervisor

Regarding the Capitol Hill Internship Program and his internship experience, Coleman Leopard said, “I would like to thank Western Carolina University for the stipend they provided. DC is an extremely expensive place so these extra funds went a long way in assisting me with financial needs.  This internship confirmed my career path in many ways.”  Regarding his internship experience, Cameron Alexander said, “If I could do the entire thing over again, I would. Without hesitation. Being able to work in Washington D.C. was amazing. I learned so much in a short time and met so many great people. I made connections that I will be able to utilize in the future as I come out of college.”  Katie Gunn said, “My internship was great, I had a wonderful experience, I met amazing people, and I learned a lot about American politics…overall, I’m so thankful for this opportunity.”

For further information or questions on the Capitol Hill Internship Program, please reach out to Courtney Gauthier ( or Dean Paulk (

Guaranteed Experiential Learning Program (GELP)

The Guaranteed Experiential Learning Program at Western Carolina University is a program that allows first generation, low income, and/or rural students to receive a guaranteed semester-long experiential learning opportunity or opportunities.  The opportunities include internships, service learning, undergraduate research, shadowing, and mentorship opportunities.  

For more information including program requirements and FAQs, please click here or contact Dean Paulk at

Whee Explore

Western Carolina University understands that selecting a major can be a complex, exciting, and sometimes challenging decision. Instead of pushing students to pick a program, we encourage our undeclared students to explore major and career options and see the many opportunities that lie ahead. WCU’s Advising Center, Center for Career and Professional Development, and Office of Student Transitions are working together to launch a new program that provides targeted resources and support to incoming students as they engage in their interests and options. Students selected for this program participate in courses designed to help them identify their interests and skills, research majors and career options, and connect with campus events and programs. They also receive emails every other week from the WheeExplore team with information and activities to help them explore their interests and learn to be successful college students. Emails include upcoming campus events, how to guides, and links to articles to provide different perspectives on how to make the most of your college experience, things to consider when choosing a major, and general ‘good to know’ content. Finally, students have the opportunity to receive a coaching session to review the results of a self-assessment designed to reflect on personal interests, skills, values, and personality, and to see how those connect to possible majors and careers.

For more information, contact Courtney Gauthier at

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