Guidelines For Internships

Guidelines For Internships (POSC 447/448/498)

Internships are a central focus of the Department of Political Science, enabling students to gain invaluable experience in the globalizing workplace and insights into various aspects of the political system.  Students electing to undertake an internship as part of their POSC major will follow these guidelines and procedures.

Note: The department also has other internship opportunities: Sacramento Semester (interning in Sacramento), Washington Center (interning in Washington, DC) and judicial apprenticeships (“shadowing” a judge in Long Beach to experience various aspects of the legal system).  For information about these other internship opportunities, please contact the Internship Director.


1. The internship must be undertaken after consultations with the Internship Director for the Department of Political Science.  The advisor will go over the procedures for finding and completing your internship.  The director may also be able to assist you in finding and selecting an internship appropriate to your concentration in Political Science.  This consultation is often done in person, but some students have been able to find the information that they need via an email exchange with the Director.


2. You are encouraged to seek out internship opportunities by consulting with faculty, business colleagues, friends, and family.  The Internship Director may be able to direct you towards internships appropriate to your career interests and academic program.


3. Your internship placement should be in an organization that clearly and actively deals with the political process.  In the past students have completed internships with various campaigns and elections (local, county, state and national), elected officials (local, county, state and national), law firms, interest groups (e.g., Amnesty International, American Red Cross, International Office of Migration), etc.  You must make sure that your internship is not merely a volunteering position and that it will give you exposure to regulatory, economic, political, cultural, or administrative responsibilities of the organization.  The sponsoring organization will supervise your activities for a total of no fewer than 125 hours for the three internship units.


4. When you have agreed upon these terms of the internship, please provide the department with a copy of the form that is found on page 4 of this handout.  Bring this form to the Political Science office (SPA 257).


5.  Upon completion of the minimum 125 contact hours with the organization, you must have your internship supervisor submit a letter on their organization’s letterhead addressed to the Internship Director for the Department of Political Science detailing:

(1) Confirmation that you have worked at least 125 hours for the organization;

(2) Brief description of the duties that you performed and the actual begin/end dates for your internship;

(3) Brief analysis of the quality of work that you did for the organization;

(4) Name of the internship supervisor and signature.


6. Written requirements of the internship:

a)  Weekly Journal:  You will be asked to keep a written weekly journal of your activities during your internship.  More than simply a list of tasks that you completed during any given day, this journal should also be your first attempt at understanding your role in the larger organization and the role that the organization seems to play in the political world.  Generally, students are expected to write 1-2 pages for every 10-12 hours that they intern.

b)  Written Analysis: At the conclusion of your internship, you will submit a 12-15 page paper.  This paper must be analytical in nature.  It must have an obvious thesis.  You may do outside research for this paper.  Your primary goal is to use your experiences as an intern to assess the role(s) that the organization for which you interned plays in the political world.  You should look to theories concepts and readings from your various political science courses to help you to provide structure and rigor to your analysis.  Although the weekly journal contributes to your grade in this course, it is the written analysis that largely determines your grade for the internship course.


The journal and the written analysis will be due on a date to be agreed upon by you and the Internship Director.  All of these written materials must be completed before you can receive credit in POSC 447/448/498.


7.  Grading Options:

Most internships are best when they are taken CR/NC.  However, there are some internships and some individual circumstances in which it makes sense for a student to take an internship course for a letter grade.  Please discuss your situation with the Internship Director to see which option is the most appropriate for you.  If you do take the course CR/NC, then you must complete a form and submit it to Enrollment Services.  This is the same form that is used to add/drop classes after VRR is closed for a given semester.  The responsibility for designating a course CR/NC is entirely the students so remember to submit this form in order to make the internship CR/NC.


8.  Internships may be completed during the summer or winter breaks (in fact, many students find this a good time to do an internship since they do not have to coordinate the internship with their work and schools schedules).  Due to administrative requirements, there are some summers in which the internship course(s) are NOT offered in the Summer or Winter Sessions.  Students may still receive credit for internships that are completed during these times.  Students should consult with the Internship Director to see when they should enroll for the internship course if they are doing the internship when the internship course is NOT being offered.