Internships for Political Science Majors

The Department of Political Science encourages its majors to take advantage of internship opportunities as a way to cultivate their skills, investigate potential occupations, and apply their classroom learning in a professional environment. Whether students earn credit for academic work relating to an internship, or participate in an internship without enrolling in related coursework, internships provide a chance for in-depth application of the knowledge and skills that students develop in the classroom. Below, the department answers some common questions that students have about internships and their political science majors.

How do I find an internship?

Political science majors can pursue an internship in one of two ways. The first is to intern through a formal internship program that is affailiated with the department. These programs are full-time programs that are conducted over the length of a semester or summer term. The second way to intern is to intern for an office on a part-time basis, typically while taking other courses.

I understand I might be able to get course credit for my internship. How do I go about this?

For students who meet the prerequisites, course credit is available for academic work that relates to an internship. Students do not earn credit for the internship itself. Instead, the internship forms the basis for the academic work. Credit is available for students who participate in a formal program (see below), or for students who acquire an independently arranged internship, meet department prerequisites, and are admitted to PLSC 395 (Independent Internship Research Project).

Does the department have a formal relationship with any existing internship programs?

The department has formal ties with three internship programs: the SUNY Brockport Washington Program, the New York State Assembly Session Internship, and the New York State Senate Undergraduate Session Assistants Program. The Brockport Washington Program operates during both fall and spring semesters as well as during the summer. Political science majors who participate in a semester-long program earn 16 credits toward graduation; eight credits count toward the major as PLSC 372 and PLSC 392. Students who participate in the Brockport summer program earn 6 credits; four credits transfer as PLSC 372. The Albany programs are conducted during the spring semester each year. Students register as full time BU students, and earn 12 credit hours; eight of these credits count toward the major as PLSC 372 and PLSC 392.

To participate in these internship programs and earn credit in political science, students must be political science majors; have junior or senior standing at the start of the internship; and have a GPA of 3.0 or better. Students may participate in one semester-long internship program for academic credit.

When are the deadlines for the Washington and Albany programs?

Applications for the Albany programs must be submitted to the department's internships director no later than two weeks prior to the deadlines on the Assembly and Senate application forms.

Applications for the Brockport Washington Program should be submitted to the department's internships director no later than one week prior to the deadlines specified on that program's web site.

Applications must include all materials, including recommendation letters and transcripts. The department reviews these applications, provides additional materials, and sends them to the relevant office in Albany or Washington.

Can you tell me more about PLSC 395 (Independent Internship Research Project)?

PLSC 395 has the following prerequisites: 1) junior or senior standing at the start of the internship; 2) GPA of 3.0 or better; have taken at least three PLSC courses, or at least three courses that are related to the internship; and 3) have acquired an unpaid internship of at least 100 hours that relates to politics or government. Students who participate in PLSC 395 maintain a weekly journal and complete a 20 page term paper. Students should seek admission to PLSC 395 prior to the start of the semester of the internship; no student will be granted admission following the drop-add period. To apply, students must meet with the department's internship director or graduate assistant and submit an application. Additional information on PLSC 395 is available here.

Students may enroll in PLSC 395 only once. In addition, if they earn credit for PLSC 395, they may not enroll in the Albany or Washington internship programs for full credit. Students planning to intern in the New York State Senate or Assembly internship programs might wish to avoid PLSC 395, since earning the full 12 credit hours in the Albany program is necessary to stay a full-time student.

It sounds as if PLSC 395 is a real course!

Yes. Students do real academic work to earn the academic credit. Though some students get A grades, not all do; it is most certainly not an "easy A" course. Students who do not need the course credit might consider pursuing the internship for the experience, and not pursuing course credit.

What counts as a political internship for PLSC 395? Can I intern with a business?

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in business should certainly pursue an internship that relates to their career interests. The Department of Political Science will only provide course credit for academic work that relates to internships that are related to politics or government insome way. This means that you acquire an internship with a private company, and that internship focuses on accounting or marketing or some area that is not related to politics or government, you will not be eligible for PLSC 395. If, however, you were to intern with a corporation's governmental affairs office, you could qualify for PLSC 395. Students who intern in law firms can also qualify for PLSC 395.

In the past few years, students who have enrolled in PLSC 395 have interned places such as the Binghamton offices of U.S. Senators Clinton and Schumer; the Binghamton office of State Senator Tom Libous; the Binghamton office of Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo; the Binghamton offices of the New York Attorney General; the Broome County District Attorney; the Binghamton City Council; the Broome County Department of Social Services; WNBC's news reporting office in New York City; the New York City Office of Emergency Management; both the Democratic and Republican Parties; several county executive's offices across the state; private law firms; and political campaigns at the local, state and national level.

I plan to pursue an independently arranged internship. When and where should I start to look for internship opportunities, and how should I apply for them?

Some students intern locally in Binghamton and Broome County. Others intern in their home communities, or in other cities in the United States or abroad. The political science department posts information about internships on the undergraduate program bulletin board that is located outside the department office door, and will sometimes email information to majors. Information on federal government internships is available through various agency web sites and, and New York City has an extensive internship program. BU's Career Development Center also has information on internships.

We recommend applying to offices the semester before you woud like to intern. While there are sometimes opportunities that arise at the start of a semester--particularly during an election year--most offices have a selection process, and you need to submit your materials early. The first step is to contact the office via telephone to see if they accept interns. (Some offices have information on their web pages.) Some offices have a formal application process, while other offices simply request a resume and cover letter, and perhaps a writing sample.

I am not a political science major. Can I still pursue internship-related course credit through your department?

The courses relating to political internships are in large part independent studies. Unfortunately, the department does not have the resources to support independent study projects for students in other majors. Students who wish to pursue internships through the Brockport Washington Program, the New York State Assembly Internship Program, or the New York State Senate Internship Program should pursue them through the Career Development Center. Students who are seeking course credit for academic work relating to an independently arranged internship should see their home departments.

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