The political science department has a strong record of supervising internships in Baltimore, Washington, and throughout neighboring states in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Internships provide practical experience with the political or judicial processes, broadening students' knowledge in the discipline, helping them explore potential careers, and providing a special opportunity to tie the theory and practice of politics and government together.
In recent years, students have served as interns on the personal staff of members of Congress (both House and Senate), Congressional committees, the White House, lobbying firms, interest groups, judges, law firms, state legislators, state agencies, and a wide range of other positions related to the study of politics.
Earning Credit for an Internship
Students interested in "for-credit" internships should set up an appointment to meet with Dr. Kevin Hula, the departmental internship coordinator, to request approval. Dr. Hula's signature is required on all forms for the internship to receive credit. Students completing all requirements for approved internships earn 3 credits that can be used toward the political science major, minor, or as an elective. Internships may not be repeated in the Political Science department for credit.
During the spring and fall semesters there is no additional fee required beyond the normal tuition. It is possible to earn credit for an internship over the summer, but all arrangements must be completed prior to June 10. In addition to getting approval in advance from the internship coordinator, students doing summer internships for credit must enroll in the internship, pay summer school tuition, and meet all of the academic requirements (e.g. readings, paper, meetings with advisor) during summer school period. Under no circumstances can internship credit be awarded retroactively for internships for which the student did not enroll and that were not pre-approved.
Prerequisites and Academic Requirements
Prior to beginning an internship, you must have achieved at least junior status, be in good standing (at least 2.000 QPA, though the political science department looks for interns to hold a 3.000 or higher for most internships), be accepted into the department's internship program, arrange with the department's internship coordinator to supervise your internship, and enroll through the records office.
As the Undergraduate Catalogue explains, internships require a minimum of 150 hours of work (distributed evenly throughout an entire academic semester). A minimum of 120 of these hours must be done at an internship site, working in a professional environment under the supervision of an on-site supervisor and an academic supervisor. In practice, this generally amounts to two full days each week. Because internships earn the same credit as other upper division courses in political science, students should plan on completing a number of academic assignments during the internship. These academic requirements are agreed on in advance with the professor supervising your internship and must be completed by the last day of classes in the semester. In general, these academic requirements include:
- assigned political science readings related to the internship
- regular meetings with the departmental internship coordinator and other interns throughout the semester
- keeping a written journal of all activities for each day on site at the internship
- producing a significant research paper by the end of the internship
Contrary to rumors you may have heard or imagined, students do not earn an automatic A in the internship; grades are determined by the faculty as in regular courses.
Brief Overview of the Process
- Plan ahead!! Internships are difficult, if not impossible, to arrange at the last minute, so begin thinking about the process as early as possible.
- Arrange an appointment with the internship coordinator (Dr. Hula) to discuss your interest and background, and to be sure that you meet the departmental prerequisites for an internship. At your initial meeting you should request an internship application.
- After we determine that you are eligible, you will need to do some research on possible places to intern. Students are responsible for making their own arrangements with the office in which the internship will be served, but we can offer some guidance based on past internships and information we receive. There are directories of internship opportunities available in the departmental office for you to examine.
- Apply to offices where you are interested in interning. Generally, you should plan to inquire at several offices. A few internships (e.g. CIA, White House, State Department) are extremely competitive and might require applying from six month up to a year ahead of time. Others are much less competitive. In any case, it is important that you demonstrate a professional attitude and appearance when you apply. Applications should be made in close consultation with Dr. Hula to ensure that the internships would actually be eligible for course credit. While we strongly encourage internships, it is important that they be substantive, meaningful, and oriented toward political science.
- Obtain a "specialized study form" from the Records Office and fill it out with Dr. Hula. This form serves as an agreement as to the academic requirements of your internship, and must then be signed by the department chair and the Advising Office.
- The "specialized study form" must be submitted to the records office no later than the end of add/drop period.
Where can I find more information about internship opportunities?
Members of the political science department would be happy to discuss past internships they have supervised. While internships are competitive and there is no guarantee that you can simply step into one of these positions, it may stimulate some ideas.
A number of books are published each year with listings of organizations and governmental offices that sponsor internships, and there are a number of online listings of internship possibilities that can help stimulate your thinking. However, it is almost a truism in Washington that "if they have a website and an office, the probably have interns." Rather than looking for a list of possibilities, start by thinking about what your interests are. What type of environment would you like to be in? Legislative branch? Executive branch? An office dealing with law and criminal justice? A particular type of policy or issue? Follow those interests online and meet with Dr. Hula or the Career Center to brainstorm approaches.