College of Arts & Sciences

Foley Institute for Public Policy & Public Service

Internships in a Nutshell

 
Getting Started

Washington State University and the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs consider an internship a career-enhancing experience. Internships integrate academic studies with work in a practical arena. In addition to bridging the gap between formal schooling and work, they often function as a launching pad for careers.

Arguably, all students should take advantage of the opportunity to complete an internship. However, before jumping into this decision there are several things that must be understood, namely internship eligibility, finding and applying for an internship, earning academic credit, academic and professional responsibilities, and grading.

Internship Eligibility & Academic Credit

Political science students are eligible for political science internship credit (Pol S 497) if they satisfactorily completed Pol S 101 or Pol S 206, and are a sophomore, junior, or senior in good academic standing. Students may receive between two and twelve internship credits. Three Pol S 497 credits may be applied toward an upper-division political science elective and toward the 120-credit university requirement necessary for graduation.

Likewise, all criminal justice students seeking internships in criminal justice (Crm J 490) are eligible if they completed either Crm J 101 or Crm J 150, and are a sophomore, junior, or senior in good academic standing. One may receive between two and twelve Crm J 490 credits. A maximum of three Crm J 490 credits may be applied as upper-division elective credit and toward the 120-credit university requirement necessary for graduation.

Ultimately, the determination of academic credit is subject to the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs or Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology degree requirements. Please see your advisor to inquire about academic credit.

Finding an Internship

First off, the primary responsibility for finding an internship belongs to the student. To begin, start by thinking about the type of experience and career you are interested in pursuing. Once narrowed down, check the Internship Bulletin Board by the elevators on the fourth floor of Johnson Tower for sites that match your interests. See the bottom of the page for a condensed list of the sites. If questions still remain, you may want to check the Career Services List of Internships, or do a simple Google search. There is a wealth of information on the Internet, just be sure to ask the internship coordinator about programs you may be interested in prior to making a commitment. After doing this, whether you have found a site or not, you will want to speak with the internship coordinator located in the Thomas S. Foley Institute, room 316, Bryan Hall.

The internship coordinator assists the sponsoring agency, the University, and most importantly for your purposes, the student. Locating the "right" opportunity, clarifying the internship application process, and assigning academic requirements are a few of the tasks the coordinator performs. In addition to these duties the coordinator is a valuable resource for students seeking a career-advancing internship—take advantage of this asset!!

Applying for an Internship

Once the eligibility requirements are met and an internship site(s) is identified you will need to apply. Often, different agencies have distinct applications and processes – don’t be surprised by this. Some are quite lengthy, involve various tests, and are time consuming – but don’t let this put you off. Approach the application process as if you were applying for your “dream job”. To expedite the process, you must have a cover letter, an updated resume, a copy of your transcript, and three letters of recommendation.

Writing a cover letter and resume can be tricky business but fortunately the Center for Advising and Career Development located in Lighty Hall can help. Seek their expertise if this is new to you. If you are a PolS or CrmJ major, a copy of the transcript may be obtained from your department or school by indicating that it is needed for an internship.

When securing letters of recommendation, first – do not procrastinate, and second – seek them from past employers and faculty who can attest to your professionalism. Additionally, allow at least two weeks for their writing. Ask for their return on a specific date. Provide to those writing the letters the name(s), address(es), and position description to which you are applying. Last, ask for a generic copy of the letter – one not addressed to a specific person or site. You can then use these in the event that your first choices prove unsuccessful without feeling like you are annoying anyone.

Be prepared to follow up the letters with phone calls.

Earning Academic Credit

Check with your academic advisor about integrating the internship credits into your overall academic plan but make sure you start early!

PolS 497 and CrmJ 490 credits are computed at the rate of one credit for each forty hours worked. A student must enroll for a minimum of two credit hours to obtain internship credits. Students must accumulate internship hours during the period in which they are enrolled for credit. In other words, if you have a summer internship and want to receive academic credit, you must register for summer session credit.

Academic Responsibilities

Internship Journal

Interns are required to submit a journal outlining their observations and impressions during the internship. The journal should indicate your day to day experiences and highlight those extraordinary events that made your internship noteworthy. Recording notes on a daily basis and then summarizing your experiences into a five to ten page journal is the recommended approach.

Make sure you assess your degree of personal growth as a result of the internship. Include how the internship affected your personal views, career goals, and perceptions of the component of the political or justice system in which you worked. In other words, did your opinions change for the better or worse, increase or decrease in intensity, as a result of your internship?

Internship Paper

Students are required to write an internship paper. The paper may take the form of a professional project or research paper. In both instances students are required to integrate assigned readings into the paper. The research paper or project is designed to make the intern think about the issues raised in the assigned readings, and how those issues are addressed in practical applications. The intern is expected to synthesize the ideas found in the readings with agency practices and personal perceptions.

Assigned Readings

Students are assigned readings that are theoretical in nature and purposely intended to stimulate critical examination of an issue area in Political Science or Criminal Justice. The readings provide a framework by which students assess the institution in which they are working. In addition, the readings provide fertile ideas upon which to base your paper.

Generally speaking, one should expect to read three books for the first three credit hours enrolled, and an additional book for each additional three credit hours enrolled. There are exceptions to this, but normally students are not assigned more than five books to read.

Institutional Analysis

All internship papers must contain an analysis of the agency or institution in which the intern is working. An example of how to examine an agency is provided below.

A) The Agency Setting:

  • A formal organizational chart of the agency, showing the intern’s place in the organization.
  • Detail of the formal goals of the agency and the steps taken by the agency to accomplish the goals and objectives.
  • An evaluation of the intake process, assessment process and service delivery system of the agency.
  • A discussion and analysis of the agency training procedures for personnel.
  • A discussion and analysis of the decision-making process within the agency.
  • A discussion and analysis of the political environment within which the agency operates.

B) The Intern Duties:

  • The responsibilities assigned to the intern by the agency.
  • Tasks performed by the student and the outcomes of the tasks.
  • How effectively the assigned tasks contributed to the achievement of the agency goals.

Research Paper

Each intern is required to complete a research paper. A research paper should examine the agency and its functions in a broad and detailed manner. The intern coordinator approves all paper topics. Further information is available by speaking to the intern coordinator.

Acceptable papers must be typed, double spaced, proofread, spell checked, properly documented and in the standard letter fonts. Papers not meeting this form or in flagrant violation of proper term paper formatting will be graded as a failure.

Paper Length

The length of the paper or project is based on the number of credit hours taken. The minimum length is ten pages and the maximum twenty pages. Students enrolled for three credits are required to write a paper no less than 10 pages in length. Students enrolled for more credits are expected to have a greater breath of experiences and hence write more but not to exceed twenty pages.

Each student therefore is required to submit both a journal and a paper. To clarify, the journal should not exceed ten pages and the paper should not exceed twenty pages. Students are not expected to write more than thirty pages.

Documentation of Papers

There are several different styles for citation. You may use any standard format. The ASA format is one of the easier styles. Guides for the various styles of citation are available in most commercial and university bookstores.

Professional Responsibilities

Interning is an important first professional experience. Consequently, students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner both in seeking an internship and during the course of the internship service. In accepting an internship, the student is agreeing to assist the sponsor to the best of his or her ability. The student conduct should reflect favorably upon the sponsor, upon Washington State University and upon the student personally. If relationship difficulties arise with the sponsor during the course of the internship, you should contact the Internship Coordinator for help in resolving the problem.

Clothes/Appearance

Your appearance and demeanor reflect on your sponsoring agency, Washington State University, and yourself. The key is to dress and behave professionally for your job responsibilities. If you are in doubt regarding appropriate attire or behavior, it is best to discuss these issues prior to beginning.

Work Schedules & Responsibilities

Establish a clear understanding with the sponsor about actual working hours, starting and ending dates, and holiday periods. This is especially important if you wish to be absent from work for university breaks. Clearly understand your assigned responsibilities and the delineated limits. This information should be in writing—at least one copy for the sponsor and one for the intern.

Confidentiality

You may be exposed to sensitive and confidential material. The utmost discretion is required when discussing information regarding clients and activities of the sponsoring agency. You may be held legally liable for violations of agency confidentiality.

Grading

Grading is done on the basis of Satisfactory - Failure. Grading is the result of your satisfactory agency evaluation, completion of an internship journal, and a special project or paper. The due date for the journal and paper is assigned by the internship coordinator. Failure to complete professional and academic requirements on time will result in a failing grade.

Coordinator Contact

Interns are encouraged to provide the coordinator with brief progress reports periodically during the internship. The student should contact the coordinator immediately if any difficulty arises concerning the expectations of the sponsor, working conditions or coworker difficulties.

Things to do:

  • Determine if you are eligible for an internship. (See Internship Eligibility and Academic Credit) You must be a junior or senior in good academic standing and have taken certain prerequisites.
  • Brainstorm. Think seriously about what kind of an internship experience you are seeking and write your ideas down – if you have multiple ideas that's ok. Next --
  • Check out the 4th floor internship bulletin board for those sites that fit your interests and write down the names of the sites. Next --
  • Speak to the Intern Coordinator, 316 Bryan Hall, to learn more about the sites and the application process. Before you see him/her --
  • Write a cover letter and resume. If you have never done this before, the Center for Advising and Career Development, located in Lighty Hall, conducts daily workshops. You will also have to --
  • Obtain a minimum of three letters of reference. They should be from college professors or past employers. Ask those who are in a good position to assess your professionalism. If you know the sites to which you are applying, supply the names and addresses to those writing the letters. Also, ask for a generic copy -- that is not addressed to a specific person or site -- this may prevent you from having to ask for another letter in the event you need them in the future.
  • Make copies of all applications.
  • Be prepared to follow up with phone calls.

Several of the more popular political science and criminal justice internship agencies are listed below.

Organization Description Paid/Unpaid Application
Deadline

Alliance Northwest Legislative Intern

Legislative internship

Paid

December 1

Alternative to Violence

Criminal Justice, Counseling

Unpaid

Rolling

Americorps National Service

Public Service

Paid

 

American Legislative Exchange program

International Politics

Unpaid

Spring: Dec. 6
Summer: April 4
Fall: Aug. 1

Association of Washington Cities

Legislative Internship

Paid

October 20

ASWSU, Student Legal Services

Political Science / Criminal Justice

Unpaid

September 1

Attorneys General Office

Legal

Unpaid

September 25

Brookings Institute

Intern Programs

Unpaid

Rolling

California Senate Association Program

Legislative

Paid

February 15

Campaign Connection

Politics

Paid

Rolling

Campaign for Working Families

Politics. Public Relations

Paid

Rolling

Canadian Political Internship Program

Foreign Government

Unpaid

February 1

CEIP Fund, Inc.

Environmental

Paid

February 1

Center for Environmental Citizenship

Environmental grass roots politics

Both

April 30

CIA

Criminal Justice

Paid

Rolling

Commerce Department, U.S.

Varied

Paid

 

Common Cause

Government and Politics

Unpaid

April 1

Community Action Center

Public Relations

Unpaid

Rolling

Community Service Learning Center

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

Rolling

Congressional Budget Office

Public Policy

Paid

March 19

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institution

Government and Politics

Paid

January 29

Congressional Research Service

Policy analysis, public administration

Unpaid

Rolling

Congressional Youth Leadership Council

Government and Politics

Paid

November 25, March 1

Congressional Internships; Washington State Delegation

Public Policy

Both

vary

C.O.P.Y. Kids

Criminal Justice

Paid

April 26

Democratic party

Party Politics

Unpaid

Rolling

Department of Community and Economic Development

Economics

Both

March 14

Dept. of Corrections: various cities

Criminal Justice

Paid

October 7

Department of Justice

Criminal Justice, Legal

Both

March 1

April 1

Department of Public Safety

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

Rolling

Department of State, US.

Government and Politics

Unpaid

Rolling

District Court Spokane County

Legal

Unpaid

Rolling

Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

May 5

Division of Juvenile Rehabilitation

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

Rolling

FBI Honors Internship Program

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

November

Federal Correctional Institute

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

November

Finance Department, various cities in WA.

Budgeting

Both

Rolling

Housing and Urban Development, US Dept. of

Criminal Justice

Paid

March 1

Juvenile Court: various counties

Criminal justice. Legal

Unpaid

Rolling

Korean American Coalition

Legal, Political

Unpaid

February 19

National Rifle Association

Lobbying

Paid

Rolling

Police Department, various cities and counties

Criminal Justice

Both

Rolling

Port of Seattle

Public Administration

Paid

Rolling

Presidential Management Intern

Government and Politics

Paid

October 31

Prosecuting Attorneys Office: various counties

Law

Paid

Rolling

Project Vote Smart

Voting and Politics

Unpaid

Rolling

Public Defenders Office, Seattle

Law

Paid

March 5, May 20, September 2, December 10

Pullman Police Reserves

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

Rolling

Republican Party, Washington

Government and Politics

Unpaid

Rolling

Resources Conservation Internships

Environmental

Paid

September 14, March 15

Sheriff's Department, various cities

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

Rolling

Spokane County Internships

Political Science and Criminal Justice

Both

Rolling

United Farm Workers

Community Organization

Paid

April 30

United Nations

Global Politics

Unpaid

Rolling

United States District Court

Criminal Justice

Paid

Rolling

U.S. Forest Service

Environmental

Unpaid

Rolling

U.S.-Japan Culture Center

Government and Politics

Unpaid

Rolling

Washington Health Care Association

Public Administration

Paid

November 23

Washington State Legislative Internships

Government and Politics

Paid

Rolling

Washington Restaurant Association

Lobbying / Government

Paid

Rolling

Washington State Association of Counties

Government and Politics

Unpaid

February 26

Washington State Community Trade and Economic Development

Government and Politics

Unpaid

Rolling

Washington State Penitentiary

Criminal Justice

Unpaid

April 14

Women Policy Studies

Criminal Justice

Paid

Rolling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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