Welcome to the site for the SU Political Science Internship program. This site includes a description of the types of internships available, as well as the requirements and responsibilities of students earning academic credit through an internship.
What is an internship? An internship is a real world experience that provides the opportunity for SU students to temporarily leave the classroom and develop skills and knowledge that relate to your major and your career goals. The internship complements and broadens that which you have learned in the classroom and allows students to become civically engaged in their community, and in the world around them.
Why should I be an intern? Especially in today’s economy it is essential that students get a leg up on the competition by having practical experience and skills that employers are looking for. For students graduating with a BA in political science, that means, in addition to what you learned in the classroom, you need to have concrete job skills including writing, policy analysis, research, communication, phone etiquette, interpersonal relations, letter writing, and creating presentations.
How do I earn credit? All internships are structured like a regular course. There is a syllabus with writing and reading assignments. The main difference is that most of your time will be spent at your internship rather than in a classroom. Depending on the type of internships, students earn between 4-9 credits by enrolling in POSC 340 (pass/fail).
Could I take other courses if I have an internship? Yes. Generally, interns who work between 8-24 hours/week, during the semester, are able to take other courses. Some students may choose to do a full time internship during the semester, usually in Washington DC. With full time, semester internships along with summer internships, students work upwards of 40 hours/week and are unable to take other courses.
What are the prerequisites? Students must be either a junior or senior and have an overall GPA of at least 3.0. Students must also have taken POSC 110.
Do I have to a Political Science major? While the major of students that participate in these internships are political science students, the program is open to students from all majors, as long as they meet the prerequisites.
Could I arrange my own internship? Yes. If after viewing this web site, you have an idea for an internship that is not described or listed here, you may email or meet with Dr. Hoffman to discuss what you want to do.
Can I get paid for my internship? That depends on the type of internship. Maryland General Assembly interns get a stipend. Political Science interns rarely get paid, but some do, depending on the finances of the organization or entity where they intern (e.g. nonprofit vs. private law firm). This is true for summer interns as well. This is something that students could arrange with their employer.
Can I get academic credit for work I’ve done in past semesters or summers? NO. Internships must be set up through Dr. Hoffman in advance of a student beginning his or her experience. Academic credit can only be earned for internships arranged and supervised according to departmental procedures and standards. You cannot find and begin an internship on your own and then receive credit after the fact.
Maryland General Assembly Internship Program (POSC 340 and 341: 7-12 credits) The General Assembly's Legislative Intern Program offers students the opportunity to provide research and staff assistance to legislators during each session and to have both an educational and practical work experience in the Legislative Branch of State government. Upon acceptance into the program, students interview for placement with legislators, committees, or caucuses of the Maryland General Assembly. This internship takes place in Annapolis, MD and students are responsible for their own transportation.
Academic credits granted to interns by SU depend upon the number of days per week the interns work in Annapolis. Students must enroll in POSC 340 for 4-9 P/F credits.
In addition, students enroll in POSC 341 (3 credits/graded), which is a two- hour seminar on State Government (on campus) on Monday afternoon.
Students should have a minimum 3.0 cumulative average and proof of competency in college composition. Many of the interns are political science majors; however, students working toward degrees in other areas who are interested in learning firsthand about the process of State government are encouraged to apply.
The type of work assigned to interns is mainly legislative, although some duties are clerical in nature. Legislative responsibilities may include conducting research; drafting correspondence; preparing, recording, and reporting testimony; contacting witnesses; attending committee hearings; tracking bills; working on mailings; handling constituent problems; and writing newsletters. Each intern is awarded a stipend to help defray the costs of participating in the program. The total session stipend varies, depending on the number of days per week the intern works in Annapolis.
-$600 per session = 2 days per week -$700 per session = 2.5 to 3 days per week -$1000 per session = 4 to 5 days per week
There is also additional funding available through the Hanna Memorial Fund and the Elmore Fund.
This internship is different from the ones described below. First, this is a spring semester internship only. Also, there is a different application process. Finally students must enroll in both POSC 340 and POSC 341 (the seminar). Applications must be received in Annapolis by October 24 and will be available at the beginning of the Fall semester on Dr. Hoffman’s office door (274 Fulton Hall). Students should complete the application packet, affix the proper postage to an unsealed 8.5 x 11 envelope and either hand deliver it or drop it in Dr. Hoffman’s mailbox well before the October 24 deadline.
Political Science Internships (POSC 340: 4-9 credits) – These internships usually take place during either the Fall or Spring semesters and are generally in the local area surrounding Salisbury. Students may get permission to enroll in these internships for the summer terms. The Political Science Department offers these internships which provide students with the hands on experience to develop skills and knowledge to become engaged with local politics and with their communities.
Students work from 12 to 20 hours/week. In addition, students are required to meet with the Dr. Hoffman at least three times during the semester. Other requirements include short reading and writing assignments, including keeping a journal of your internship activities. Students must enroll in POSC 340 for 4 credits.
Typically, these internship fall into five categories -
Legal Internships – Students intern with the District Attorney, the Public Defender, a private law firm or a judge. Many students, who are thinking about going to law school find these internships to be particularly useful. Click here for examples of students who completed internships in previous semesters.
Interest Groups – There are a number of groups in Salisbury, and throughout the Eastern Shore, that are involved with lobbying state and local officials, and educating the public about particular issues. Groups include business, environmental, and many others. These internships often provide students with political experience and skills involving policy analysis.
Nonprofit Groups – for those who want to have an impact on the lives of those less fortunate, these internships allow students to gain valuable experience doing a variety of activities including the delivery of social services to the poor, organizing and empowering at-risk populations, and lobbying elected officials to enact policies that help improve the lives of lower income groups. Click here for examples of students who completed internships in previous semesters.
Elected Officials – Working for an elected official is a great way to make contacts for future job prospects. Interning for an elected official such as member of Congress, a state legislator or a local official, teaches students valuable skills in politics and policy making. Students learn how to communicate with constituents as well as a variety of other skills related to political science. Click here for examples of students who completed internships in previous semesters.
Political Campaigns – While not offered every semester due to the election cycles, frequently there are opportunities for students to gain valuable political experience interning for a candidate seeking public office. Students learn a variety of skills including get-out-the-vote strategies, polling techniques, grassroots organizing, political research and media relations. Internships include working for candidates running for the U.S. Congress, the state legislature as well as local elections.
Summer and Full time semester Internships (POSC 340: 4-9 credits) While most students sign up for internships during the fall and spring semesters, some students, especially those whose families reside in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, may want to deepen their political or legal experience by enrolling in a full time internship during the summer. The Baltimore/Washington DC area is arguably the center of the universe for working in politics and many students may want take advantage of SU’s close proximity to this area. Students are not limited to this geographic area and may intern for an organization anywhere in the world, as long as the internship is approved through the application process.
Students must sign up for summer credits during the summer in which the internship takes place. The amount of credits depends on the duration of the internship and hours worked per week. Generally, if students work a full 40 hour work week for most of the summer, they sign up for 9 credits of POSC 340. Students must communicate regularly with Dr. Hoffman through email and are required to complete reading and writing assignments as well as maintain a weekly journal.
One option for summer and full time semester internships is for students to get an internship through The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. The Washington Center provides diverse, highly motivated interns to thousands of organizations in government, business and the non-profit sector. The interns contribute significantly to their placements and often prove to be of longer-term interest as prospective employees. One of the best things about this top-notch internship program is that the state of Maryland provides a tuition subsidy for all SU students who are Maryland residents. While the program initially costs $5195 for the summer, qualified students pay only $695. Students must also pay for their own living expenses as well as SU summer tuition (4-9 credits).
If you go through the Center, you still have to follow the SU application process below (See Getting Started) in addition to the Center’s application process. If you do not go through the Center, you can still get a summer internship on your own by following SU’s application process. Descriptions and resources for getting an internship are listed below.
Capitol Hill – This is perhaps one of the most valuable and rewarding internships for political science students, interning for a member of Congress is a tremendous resume builder and provides students with great opportunities to learn about American politics. There are a number of ways to secure these internships.
Apply directly to Congressional offices – students should start this process between December and March previous to the summer they wish to intern. Students should go to the websites of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and look up members of Congress for whom they wish to intern.. Members’ websites often have information about internships and instructions as to how to apply. Students should consult with the Career Services at SU office for assistance with resumes and cover letters.
Federal Government Internships – Many federal agencies provide internship opportunities for well-qualified students during the summer months. These internships are often quite competitive as the best candidates have an above average GPA and a solid resume and cover letter. Students get the chance to work on substantive policy areas including national security, international relations, environment, housing, trade and many others.
Interest Groups, Nonprofit Groups and Think Tanks – Some of the most interesting and most powerful political groups are headquartered in Washington. Students have the opportunity to delve deeply into an issue they are interested in including environmentalism, foreign policy, human rights, poverty, homelessness, business, civil rights, civil liberties, campaign finance reform, education and many others. While many of these internships are located in Washington, students should also look for opportunities around larger metropolitan areas such as Baltimore City as well as Montgomery County.
Students should frequently check this site for internship “Current Listings,” as well as pay attention to emails regarding internships from Career Services. In addition, students should take their own initiative to contact lawyers, interest groups, nonprofit groups, and politicians to let them know of your interest in working for them for free. See the links below for sites that advertise internship opportunities.
Step 1. Read through this website.
Step 2. Plan AHEAD. Internships are virtually impossible to get at the last minute. Many of the most competitive internships in Washington DC (federal agencies, CIA, FBI, Congress, White House) require applying 6 months to a year ahead of time.
Step 3. Contact the organization, office or individual to inquire about how to apply for an internship.
Step 4. Determine if the internship opportunity can offer you at least 156 hours during the semester or the summer for the days/times you prefer.
Step 5. Complete an Internship Application form with your internship supervisor and return the completed form to Dr. Hoffman. This form must be submitted no later than two weeks prior to the last day of add/drop for the semester you wish to intern. Click here for application (PDF).
Step 6. If your application is approved, Dr. Hoffman will contact you with a permission code # that allows you to register for POSC 340. (4 credits = 12 hours/week, 6 credits = 18 hours/week, 9 credits = 27 hours/week). You will be sent a syllabus that describes assignments that must be completed during the semester.