Internship in Politics


Prepared by: Dr. Jim L. Riley

Professor of Politics

Regis University

Denver, CO

The first sentence in the Regis Mission Statement reads:   "Regis University educates men and women of all ages to take leadership roles and to make a positive impact in a changing society."  Understanding the nature of politics in its broadest sense is crucial to this goal.  This course seeks to expand the political knowledge of students such that each of them is better able to become capable and responsible leaders in our society that is so deeply penetrated by things political.


1. Discuss the possibility of an internship with your advisor or the faculty member in the department where you wish to obtain credit. For example if you are planning to do a Politics internship, meet with Dr. Jim Riley: he sponsors all Politics interns. All majors in Politics are required to complete an internship. Discuss this within your advisor. 

2. Meet with the Director of Academic Internships . Discuss your career plans and interests. Review possible placement sites. Go over your time availability. Remember: an intern must work at least 10 hours a week for an entire semester (120 hours). Plan for your internship and select your other classes to allow for a minimum of FOUR hour blocks of time at your site. You must be responsible for providing your own transportation to and from your internship.

3. Complete your resume. Resume guides will be provided in the office of Experiential Education. Career Services also support students with resume workshops and individual sessions for assistance with preparing the resume. After your resume has been completed turn it into the Office of Experiential Education.

4. Registration: Forms for registering for academic credit for the internship are in the Life Directions Center. The forms must be signed by you, your faculty sponsor, and the Director of Academic Internships. Do not turn the registration form into the Registrar's office, simply return it to the Academic Internship Office.

5. Contact Sheets: After your resume is received a contact sheet with three possible placement sites will be prepared and given to you. Each contact gives the name, phone, address etc. of a potential internship site. You will receive directions on how to proceed with scheduling interviews on the contact sheet itself.

6. Learning Contract: The Learning Contract is an agreement between you and your faculty member about the structure of your internship. In order to begin preparation of the learning contact the Academic Internship Office.  It must receive a job description from your internship site supervisor (if we don't already have one). Your site supervisor may fax a job description at (303) 964-5478. It is your responsibility to meet with your faculty sponsor to complete the learning contract and develop the learning objectives, activities, and evaluation portions. Please fill in all areas. The evaluation portion denotes what is required of you for your letter grade. After you have completed your contract, return it to the Academic Internship Office. A signed copy will be sent to your site supervisor and faculty sponsor.

7. Evaluations and grades. Two evaluations will be sent to your work site supervisor, one at mid-term and one shortly before finals. Please ask your direct supervisor to fill out the evaluations and return them promptly. It will be important for the Academic Internship Office to receive the evaluations in a timely manner because grades cannot be issued without the completed evaluation form.  Grades of incomplete may be assigned only if a request is made and approved following established university requirements.  You may obtain a copy of the proper form here.  Note that 5 copies of the form need to be printed. You may also obtain a hard copy of the form in the office of the Dean of the College.

8.  Career-Link Web Page.  Visit this web page to consider various internship opportunities.

9. Academic Integrity: It is expected that students will act honorably in all activities related to this course and will refrain from any form of academic and professional dishonesty or deception in the classroom, clinical, and other learning settings. These behaviors include cheating, plagiarism, falsification of data, falsification of records, and aiding and/or abetting dishonesty.

10.   Accommodation of Disabilities: For information regarding Regis policies regarding disability services, visit the web site of the Office of Disability Services..

11. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (Provided by the Office of Academic Internships)

    What are the requirements for doing an internship?

                    Students must be a Junior or Senior and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

    Can Sophomores and Freshmen do internships?

Yes they can. However, the internship is called a Field Experience and the student will receive elective credit for the internship. These credits are non-transferable.

    Do I have to do the internship for credit?

Yes. Internships at Regis are strictly for credit. If a student would like valuable work experience without getting credit, we suggest making an appointment in Career Services to discuss part-time or full-time job opportunities. A student may also seek out volunteer opportunities in his/her field of study.

    What if I find a great job in my field this summer, can I get credit for it this fall?

No. The Academic Internship Program does not award credit retroactively. We are an academically structured program like a traditional class. The student sets up clear learning objectives with a Faculty Sponsor prior to the internship. The student is then closely monitored and evaluated by the site supervisor according to the student’s learning goals.

    How long do I need to do the internship?

At least 120 hours in the form of 10 hours per week for 12 weeks. You can work more if you like but the minimum requirement is 120 hours.

    Any deadlines I should know about?

Yes! You must be placed and registered by the last day of add/drop in any given semester or summer session. We must have the Confirmation Letter from the site supervisor before you will be able to register.  There are also deadlines associated with the final paper.

    What kind of materials do I need to do an internship search?

A resume. Career Services offers "Open Hours" Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:00 and Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:30. No appointment is necessary to have a career counselor help you update or start your resume. They are also available for practice interviews.

We also require that each student read the Program Overview at the Office of Academic Internships website:

    Who’s responsible for obtaining the internship?

The student. We consider the internship search the first step in the student’s career search. Career Services and the Internship Program are here as a resource for students, but the successful intern is ultimately responsible for their own placement.

    How do I get graded?/Who will grade me?

Faculty. It is the student’s responsibility to identify the faculty person in their department who sponsors interns. The student should get a clear understanding from the faculty sponsor regarding academic requirements. (i.e Learning Contract, syllabus, etc.)

    What if I already found my internship?

Great! That’s what we love to hear! We just need a job description of what you will be doing and your supervisors contact information. We will determine if the internship meets Regis’ criteria and request the letter of confirmation from your supervisor.

    I’m ready to do an internship, now what?

Call/e-mail Pam Austin (303.964.5234/ or stop by the Academic Internship Program in the Coors Life Direction Center in the Career Services office. She will check your GPA and then schedule an appointment for you to meet with Lynne.

All students not covered by their internship employment site, must pick up the Worker's Compensation form in the Academic Internship Office.  These forms must be signed and remain in in that office. A copy can be made for you.


Plan your internship at least one semester (8 to 10 weeks) in advance of the date you want to work to give yourself plenty of time to meet application deadlines.

Apply to a minimum of two or three programs so you will have the chance to choose from several acceptances. That way you won't be closed out entirely if you apply for internships that are particularly competitive.

Agree upon a "work contract" with your internship sponsor or personnel coordinator to spell out your daily work duties, duration of internship, direct supervisor and performance evaluation procedures.

Keep a daily journal to record your work hours, work-related activities, and personal observations to document your internship.   This is an essential component of any successful internship.

Of primary importance is attitude, reliability, competency and a cooperative spirit..

Be pleasant and willing to take on more than is expected.

Ask pertinent questions, make your work product excellent, and ask co-workers relevant questions about the field.

I. Internship in Politics (Bulletin Description)
3 hours credit per course. Maximum of 6 hours. Students will be placed in a governmental organization or private institution deeply involved in the political process. Their progress will be guided and monitored both by the site supervisor and the faculty sponsor. Emphasis will be placed on locating students at a site where their prior academic learning can best mesh with on-the-job experience. Departmental approval is required prior to enrollment.

II. Rationale and Presumptions
    A. There can be a mutually beneficial relationship established between a private or governmental institution and the Regis University Department of History and Politics and between qualified students and various agencies involved in politics.
    B. There are many private and governmental institutions regularly and ordinarily in need of intelligent and
         responsible para-professional volunteers.
    C. College students are able if properly screened, and academically prepared and regularly supervised, to be
         of valuable usefulness to such institutions.
    D. The college student can, in turn, be encouraged in his/her career choice and be enabled to develop
         authentic background and some degree of professional skill and realistic motivation from exposure to a
         professional experience.
    E. In brief, such internship-type placements can be mutually beneficial to the service institution, to the aspiring
        student, and to the overall improvement of the program of professional training being provided at Regis

III. Regis' Expectations for Students in the Program
    A. Rather than being utilized as a naive and totally untrained volunteer fit only for messenger services or clerical work, it is necessary that the student-intern be given semi-professional responsibilities such as:
        1) Observation of a professional staff in action dealing with human and institutional needs.
        2) Rudimentary, yet professional, responsibilities in a professionally-run institution under supervision.
        3) Attendance of staff meetings, lectures, or other activities.
        4) Assisting in interviewing.
        5) Appropriate interactions with staff and professional people.
        6) Performing case work.
        7) Accomplishing research tasks.
    B. The student should receive frequent, though not necessarily lengthy, supervision by an appropriate
         professional person on the staff of the institution of placement.
    C. The student should be assigned to a regular schedule of weekly duties.
    D. The intern will be thrice screened before acceptance in any specific placement institution:
        1) First by the Politics wing of the Department intern director to determine that the student applicant is
            capable, responsible, and properly motivated.
        2) Secondly, by a member of the office of Academic Internships to determine student eligibility.
        3) Thirdly, by someone from the placement institution to determine whether, in the opinion of the service
            institution, the student is acceptable and likely to make a contribution sufficient to justify the relatively
            moderate expenditure of time and energy on the part of the institution.
    E. The student will receive upper division credit in Politics and a grade for the proper and sufficient fulfillment
        of duties assigned by the placement institution and will, therefore, be subject to strict academic
        requirements on the part of Regis College.
    F. Some form of written evaluation from the site supervisor is necessary.
   G. Regularly scheduled contacts/meetings with the faculty member directing the internship is required.

IV. The Regis Commitment to the Placement Arrangement
For our part, Regis will undertake:
    A. To identify, as far as possible, to only responsible, intelligent, well-motivated students with proven track
         records in academic course work germane to the area of placement service.
    B. completion of a learning contract between, college, intern, and placement institution.
    C. To provide regular and frequent supervision by professionally grounded members of our faculty. Such
        supervision will include:
        1) Discussion of student's daily log of placement responsibilities and activities and experiences.
        2) Discussion of background materials relevant to student's placement, such as theory, methods, problems,
        3) Discussion of background reading suggested by placement institution and/or by the faculty sponsor at
        4) Monitoring and motivation to insure that the student is meeting satisfactorily the responsibilities of the
            internship with unbroken attendance and reliable promptness.
    D. The Academic Internship Office will be in  contact as necessary with the placement institution by phone or
         other means as circumstances suggest.

V. Final Paper Requirements and Significance:  The final paper will constitute a major component of your internship.  The quality of the paper, as measured by the standards set forth below, will determine in large measure the grade for the class.

    A. A polished, error-free, well organized descriptive analysis of the experience is required.
    B. Purposes
        1. to describe in an organized manner the work done
        2. to analyze the experience using concepts learned in prior course work
        3. to demonstrate enhanced knowledge of politics as a result of the internship
    C. Organization - The paper should include the following
        1. Title Page
        2. Table of Contents
        3. Body of Paper (Narrative text with internal headings corresponding to table of contents; pagination)
            a. The first part of the paper should be descriptive primarily.   Its focus should be on the activities, duties,
                and responsibilities of the intern along with a description of the agency itself.   This portion of the
                paper should be about 6-8 pages in length (double spaced, size 12 font).
            b. The second part of the paper should focus on what was learned as a result of the internship.  The
                writer should develop about a half-dozen "areas of learning" and then indicate what was learned in
                each of these areas.  Below are some suggested "areas" or topics.  The focus here is NOT on what
                was experienced but what was learned.  Each Area of Learning should have a separate heading.   This portion of the
                paper should also be about 6-8 pages in length (double spaced, size 12 font).
        4. One page Summary of Dates and Times Worked (including a summation of the total number of hours at the site)
        5. Bibliography
        6. Appendix (include copies of any written work produced in the internship)

VI. Procedures for Acceptance into the Internship Program
    A. You must be a Regis student in your junior or senior year.
    B. You must have completed satisfactory work in the Politics courses you have already taken. Such courses may include:
         POL 215,  United States National Politics
         Three other courses such as:
         POL 241, Comparative Politics
         POL 410, U. S. Public Policy
         POL 400 and/or POL 401, Constitutional Law
         POL 403, Courts and the Judicial Process
         POL 410, U.S. Public Policy
         POL 421, State and Local Government
         POL 482EW, Topics in Political Theory
         POL 414, The U.S. Presidency
         POL 416, Congress and the Legislative Process
         POL 413, Elections and Political Behavior

    C. You must have the written approval of the Internship Director in the Politics wing of the History and Politics Department and written approval from the Academic Internship Office.
    D. You must have a 2.5 GPA or better.
    E. Registration: In the event that these procedures are adequately met, an attempt will be made to place each student in the situation he or she prefers; but one's preference cannot be guaranteed because of other factors, such as the availability of specific placement positions and the differential backgrounds and needs of the students seeking internship placement. By reason of very special and professional circumstances governing the internship program, student withdrawal without prejudice (i.e. a simple WP on one's transcript) cannot be permitted since entrance into the program involves not only registration in a course but also a definite commitment to provide a service to the participating institution.
    In order to register for an internship students must go through the Academic Internship Office.  Necessary forms are in that office as well as information regarding proper procedures in the registration process. Interns must complete a Learning Contract at the very beginning of the internship.  This should be completed in consultation with the site supervisor and faculty sponsor.

VII. Placements
    A. Placement Center Supervision
        1) Potential interns will interview with the prospective on-site supervisor. This person has freedom to accept a student or not, depending upon his/her estimate of the student's suitability for their specific program.
        2) ABSOLUTE DEPENDABILITY is required in meeting the schedule of the site office. This refers not only to presence at the required times and to promptness, but also to timely completion of assigned projects.
        3) Duties and responsibilities which will be clearly defined by the on-site supervisor and agreed to in writing via the Learning Contract described above.
        4) There may also be assigned readings, reports, attendance at in-service training meetings, and the like.
        5) Regular meetings will be held with the on-site supervisor as defined by him or her.
        6) In general, a student should expect to spend forty hours on the "job" per semester hour of credit being sought, plus whatever reading or preparation might be necessary to enable one to meet one's duties adequately and to profit fully  from  the experience.

NOTE: Should the student fail to meet the reasonable requirements laid down by the on-site supervisor which are necessary to deliver professional services in the placement institution, and the on-site supervisor declares him/herself dissatisfied, Regis will reserve the right to withdraw the student from the course and assign a grade of "F".

        B. Regis Supervision:
        1) Our best efforts and assistance will be aimed at providing each placement student with as authentic and professional a learning experience as possible. Personal assistance and consultation will be provided in the following manner.
        2) There will be a definitely scheduled regular (probably twice monthly) meeting with the supervisor at Regis. This appointment will be set up as soon as the student's class and placement schedules have been finalized.
        3) A daily log will be required to be written immediately following the completion of one's duties on each day worked at the placement center. This log should consist of two parts: (1) an accounting of the day's activities and (2) reflections on what was observed in the course of that day. This latter section is particularly important as a basis on which to construct the final paper. Drawing upon knowledge gained from prior courses the intern should in this "reflections"  portion of the log prepare written commentary on topics such as those included in the section of this guide headed
           In the regular bi-weekly meeting with the supervisor at Regis, bring:
            -- Your daily log of placement experiences.
            -- Copies or reports to and/or feedback from the on-site supervisor.
            -- Evidence of progress in doing the assigned readings, projects assigned by both the on-site and Regis supervisors.
            -- Your own questions, problems, feelings, attitudes, sense of success or frustration experienced at your placement.

VIII.  Course Withdrawal Policy

Students are expected to know and observe the published deadlines for (a) dropping the course and (b) withdrawing from the course. These deadlines are published on the University's Academic Calendar, which is available in the Bulletin, the course schedule and is in the Dean's Office.  THESE DEADLINES ARE NOT FLEXIBLE.   

Internship Final Paper -- General Requirements

    Final papers for the course Internship in Politics (POL 498E) are an essential component for completion of course requirements. The body of the paper should be approximately fifteen pages in length, typewritten or computer printed, double spaced, and organized internally with headings that correspond to the table of contents. When possible and appropriate appendices should be attached which might include copies of printed work done by the intern or other pertinent data.
    The organization of the paper should be as follows: Title Page, Table of Contents, Body of Paper, Summary of Dates and Times Worked, Bibliography, and Appendix The paper must meet all of the requirements of the Department as set forth in attached materials. Grading standards are also described in those materials.

CONTENT GUIDES: Due to the unique nature of internships it is vital that the paper reflect the peculiar character of these courses. There must be a meshing of prior classroom learning with on-site experiences and observations. This merger must be consciously developed within the paper. It is critical that the paper contain not only a description of the activities engaged in during the internship, but also thoughtful reflections and analysis of the experience itself.  Approximately six areas of learning should be addressed in your paper. 
    There are various concepts in the study of politics that students must comprehend if any meaningful understanding of the discipline is to be achieved. Many of these have been already been presented in previous classes and readings. As an intern you now have the opportunity to examine those concepts as they relate to the internship experience. Depending on the nature of the internship some concepts will be more relevant than others. It is up to the you to choose those concepts that best help make political sense out of the internship.
    Below are various suggestions on conceptual frameworks or areas of learning that might be used in developing an insightful and thoughtful paper. These remarks are not intended as the totality of concepts that may be used but as suggested ideas that may serve as a guide during the preparation and completion of the final paper.

CONFLICT AND COOPERATION: At its very core, politics involves human interactions that are designed to resolve conflict and promote cooperation in society. This is true of the behavior of nations as well as the interactions of individual human beings. As you complete the internship experience you will observe both conflict resolution and cooperation at your site. How does this process occur, is it successful or not, what affects this success, are there any special rules by which the process occurs at your site, and are there any other aspects of these essential functions worthy of note?

POWER, AUTHORITY AND LEGITIMACY: Power is the ability to get someone to do something they otherwise would not do. Legitimacy is recognized authority enabling one to achieve desired behavior without the need to resort to threats or coercion. Legitimacy, in other words, is having the right (in the eyes of one whose behavior is being changed) to direct that change. One may give a mugger the money he demands, but there is no legitimacy accorded to the mugger. The mugger gets what he wants through coercion and fear.
    Contrariwise, one gives money to a provider of a service or goods (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) because it is accepted that the provider has a right to compensation for their work. At your site you should be able to observe instances of the exercise of both power and authority. If authority exists from where does it arise? In other words, how does one acquire authority and/or power at your site? What are its sources? Are there any perceived differences in the consequences of the exercise of power as compared with the exercise of authority?

LEADERSHIP: Virtually all organizations are structured hierarchically. This is done, among other things, to facilitate the identification of lines of authority and responsibility. One intended outgrowth of this structure is effective leadership. Structural features aside, leadership traits inhere in great measure to the skills and abilities of individuals to choose goals, set priorities, develop and allocate resources, and ultimately to motivate others to act in concert towards the achievement of identified goals. The manifestation of leadership at your site should receive considerable attention in your paper. To what extent does leadership exist? Does the organizational structure reflect accurately leadership location?

MISSION: The mission of an organization or agency is its essential purpose, its raison d'etre or reason for being. What is the mission of your agency? Has it changed either explicitly or implicitly over time? Is the personnel aware of the mission and committed to it?

POLICY: It has been said that public policy is (1) the authoritative allocation of values; (2) determining who gets what, when and how; and (3) that which governments choose to do and not to do about perceived problems. What are the primary policies of your site organization? How are they determined? How is their effectiveness measured?

LAW: No governmental body in the United States can function except under authority of law. What is the nature of the enabling legislation undergirding your site organization? What societal needs prompted the authorizing body (the legislature, the people, etc.) to establish and empower the legal entity within which you now function? Do these needs remain today? Does the organization continue to meet the needs as originally intended?

GROUP INFLUENCE: Organized interest groups lie at the very core of political activity in the present era. What groups seek to influence if not control your site organization? What techniques do they use? How effective are they? Are there other identifiable interests in society that should be concerned about your organization's activities but are not? What makes some groups more influential than others? Are the groups relatively stable over time and influence?

IDEOLOGY: Political ideology -- liberalism, conservatism, socialism,etc. -- are primary factors governing the behavior of some political actors. Is ideology an important element in explaining the functions performed by your agency personnel? Are the people at your site of a common mind set regarding political ideologies or are they divergent? If so, to what extent? Are these divergences significant insofar as the mission of the agency is concerned?