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.
WSU students are currently interning across the country, from working for members of the U.S. House of Representatives to working with NGOs or governmental agencies. Internships are offered during fall, spring, and summer school sessions. One of our most popular programs is with the Washington State Legislature in Olympia. Visit Internships in Olympia to learn more about the fabulous opportunities afforded by this specific program. There are many other internship opportunities both in the state, and further afield.
Before deciding to take the opportunity that an internship can offer, there are several things to consider, such as internship eligibility, finding and applying for an internship, earning academic credit, and your academic and professional responsibilities. Please read through these pages carefully.
All students are eligible to sign up for political science internship credit (Pol S 497). Students may receive between three (3) and up to twelve (12) internship credits in total. Three Pol S 497 credits may be applied toward an upper-division political science elective and the remainder toward the 120-credit university requirement necessary for graduation. Pol S 497 is pass/fail. It is also possible to take up to three credits of Pol S 498, which is the graded alternative.
Finding and applying for an internship
The primary responsibility for finding an internship belongs to the student, although the Foley Institute can assist with locating a suitable opportunity. Please visit the Foley Institute on the third floor of Bryan Hall.
Once you have found an internship you will need to apply. Often, different agencies have distinct applications and processes – 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 a job, which in many ways you are. In most cases you will need as a minimum a cover letter, an up-to-date resume, possibly a copy of your transcript, and at least one and as many as three professors and/or employers who are prepared to write letters of recommendation.
Earning academic credit
Check with your academic advisor about integrating the internship credits into your overall academic plan. PolS 497 credits are computed at the rate of approximately one credit for each forty hours contact time at the internships. 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 and professional responsibilities
PolS 497 is a pass/fail class. To pass you need a satisfactory agency evaluation, and to have completed a research paper and 5 page journal to satisfy the academic portion of the internship (see syllabus for details).
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.
More information: Email Richard Elgar in the Foley Institute, or call 509-335-3477.
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