How do I Choose the Best Political Science Internship?

Paul Woods
Paul Woods
A political science internship gives students the opportunity to practice what they've learned.
A political science internship gives students the opportunity to practice what they've learned.

A good political science internship will prepare a student for the move from theoretical to practical knowledge by helping the student gain real world experience without the pressures of a career. These internships are generally considered essential to beginning a career in political science, and choosing the right one is a vital step in this process. After determining issues of payment, location and duration, students looking for a political science internship should base the decision on three factors. First, the internship’s association with a reliable organization, office or political figure is important for prestige. Then, be sure there is the opportunity to network and the opportunity to gain real experience. Depending on the career aspirations of the student, he or she will wish to choose certain types of internships that fulfill these three requirements.

Working as an intern at an organization is an opportunity to determine whether a particular career is one that an intern actually wishes to pursue.
Working as an intern at an organization is an opportunity to determine whether a particular career is one that an intern actually wishes to pursue.

Internships provide several important opportunities and perform multiple functions in the beginning of a career. A political science student who either wishes to explore a career in the field, or already has specific career goals, almost always needs to gain experience before being hired even for entry-level positions. Political science internships are a good way to get this experience and explore different career paths.

There are many different types of political science internships, in many locations and for various amounts of time. A student should first determine if he or she can afford to intern somewhere without pay, or if payment is a necessity. Also, a student should know what city he or she wishes to work in, or if that, too, is flexible. Last, some political science internships are for the duration of a summer, or a semester or sometimes an entire year; a student should know what amount of time he or she is able to work.

After narrowing the list, students should determine if the political science internships are associated with a worthwhile organization or political figure. For students seeking to explore career options, this will simply mean that the internship is with a major or esteemed organization, a government office or a politician. When a student knows what specific career path he or she wants to take, then an ideal political science internship will be in such an office, or with the type of political figure that student aspires to be.

A good political science internship will also provide the student with the opportunity to network. Students seeking jobs in the political world need to make connections and can begin to do so before being hired. In addition, many organizations use internships as a way of evaluating candidates for further jobs and promotions. A student should research the internships he or she is interested in to make certain that they will be located in an office either with other interns or, preferably, with professionals in the field.

Lastly, it is important that a political science internship provide the opportunity to gain real experience. A primary purpose of an internship is to introduce students to the real world, outside the classroom. If an organization hires interns, but offers them no responsibility or challenge, it might not be worth the time and effort. Internships are a tool geared toward gaining real world experience to enhance career possibilities. Read about other intern’s experiences, read the descriptions online about duties interns are assigned, and ask questions about day-to-day life in the office.

Some students might worry about political association or parties when choosing an internship. If a student knows his or her political philosophy and opinions on issues, it is usually prudent to intern with like-minded figures. Most political science internships will be with partisan organizations or people, but there is a lot to be learned by keeping an open mind and not shutting out opportunities based solely on this consideration.

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    • A political science internship gives students the opportunity to practice what they've learned.
      By: DragonImages
      A political science internship gives students the opportunity to practice what they've learned.
    • Working as an intern at an organization is an opportunity to determine whether a particular career is one that an intern actually wishes to pursue.
      By: Monkey Business
      Working as an intern at an organization is an opportunity to determine whether a particular career is one that an intern actually wishes to pursue.