Frequently Asked Questions: Political Science Internships

Students may find the following information helpful when applying for an internship.

1) What are the obligations of an internship?

The Political Science department requires students to complete 120 hours of work at their internship agency. The hours should be regularly scheduled, not on a "I'll drop by a couple of days per week" basis. Some intern agencies require more than the 120 hours. Students who accept these internships are obligated to complete the work requirements of the agency for which they work. Moreover, students are required to complete multiple academic requirements. In the past, students have been assigned short research papers on their intern agency, career fields they may wish to pursue, in addition to papers on readings assigned by their intern coordinator.

2) What criteria are considered when selecting interns?

Applicants will be evaluated on multiple criteria, including their (1) academic progress (i.e., gpa, workload, completion of courses), (2) Major Field, (3) Minor Field, (4) extra-curricular activities, (5) application responses and writing sample, (6) applicant's "fit" with agencies, (7) interview performance, (8) letters of recommendation, and other relevant factors.

3) Are internships paid?

Most internships are not paid. If students cannot accept an unpaid internship, they should not apply.

4) Do I need to be a Political Science major or minor to receive an internship from the Political Science department?

No. First priority will be given to Political Science majors or minors, but other majors and minors are welcome to apply. Sometimes specific skills from other fields are better suited to specific internships, and we look for the best "match."

5) What does the application process entail?

Applying for an internship is a multi-stage process:

1. The student will complete the application materials, including the application form, the essay, and two letters of recommendation. These materials should be submitted by the application deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

2. The student will meet with previous interns.

3. The applicant will meet with the internship coordinator.

4. The internship coordinator will then consult with selected students to find the right match for their internship.

5. Students may have to interview for their position. They may also be required to submit to a background check, financial records check, or drug test.

6) Do I have to apply for an internship even if I find my own?


7) If I find my own internship can I be turned down by the Political Science department?

Yes. It is the Dean's policy that the intern coordinator must approve all internships and must further ensure that all placed interns are "qualified and prepared." The application process is important for a number of reasons, the most important of which are: (1) to ensure fairness to all applicants, (2) to ensure that the most qualified applicants are awarded internships, and (3) to ensure that only qualified applicants represent the University and the department as interns.

Such a policy is best not only for the University, the Department, and the intern agency, but also for the intern. By ensuring the quality of the interns that are placed, we can best preserve positive relationships with intern agencies, and, in turn, best ensure that such opportunities are granted to future students. Many intern agencies will not even consider students unless they go through a pre-screening process, and the University insists upon it.

Students who do not follow the appropriate procedures will not receive academic credit for their internship. The interns for the Political Science department have strong credentials, with an average GPA of 3.3 and fewer than one Q per transcript on average. Maintaining high standards such as these helps us continue to expand both the quantity and the quality of future internships.

8) Can a student apply for a specific internship?

A student can indicate her preferred internship in her application essay and during the interview with the intern coordinator, but no student can be guaranteed that she will recieve her preferred internship. Internship positions go to the most qualified applicant. Students are encouraged to keep their preferences open.

9) What do I to do if something comes up and I cannot complete the internship?

We don't like this question much. Occasionally, a student will have severe problems that prevent the completion of the internship requirements. Under such conditions, if they are properly documented, the department may be able to accommodate the student's needs by allowing him/her to complete alternative requirements in the manner of an independent study. It should be noted, however, that such conditions are limited to long-term or severe medical emergencies and similarly debilitating circumstances.

Students who apply to the internsip program should consider this a serious commitment and see it through to completion. Other than the conditions described above, students who do not complete the work will receive a failing grade. Interns represent both the University and the Political Science Department, and they should endeavor to be professional, hard-working, and diligent.