Guidelines & Requirements
(POSC 495, POSC 495W, PUAD 496)


The Political Science Department requires internships of its public administration majors and recommends them for its other students. An internship offers a working world experience that allows:

  1. a contrast with and application of what the student has learned in an academic setting,
  2. a clarification or reshaping of the student's career goals,
  3. the acquisition of career relevant experiences and networks.


To qualify for an internship you must have:

  1. no less than a 2.0 GPA,
  2. five (5) courses relevant to the internship you wish to do (see specifics below),
  3. junior or senior standing,
  4. permission of the faculty internship coordinator.
  5. In addition, you may not have previously received credit for POSC 495, POSC 495W or PUAD 496.

To register for an internship you must have turned in an INTERNSHIP APPLICATION to the faculty internship coordinator. If your application is approved, the faculty internship coordinator will grant you an override allowing you to register. You register for the internship just as you would for any other course.

Students receive four credits for an internship of 240 or more work hours. Students wishing to do internships during the May and summer sessions must register for internships in the eight-week summer session. A student should not attempt to carry more than 16 credit hours while doing an internship.


The Political Science Department offers four types of undergraduate internships.

  • POSC 495 INTERNSHIP IN POLITICAL SCIENCE: Intended for those seeking legislative, policy-making, campaign, constituency, interest group, and criminal justice experience. Prerequisite: 15 credits of political science in courses relevant to the internship setting.
  • POSC 495W. INTERNSHIP IN POLITICAL SCIENCE - WASHINGTON SEMESTER. Solely for students who have been accepted for the Washington Semester Program.
  • PUAD 496 INTERNSHIP IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: Required of all public administration majors; to be done in a public or non-profit administrative setting. Prerequisite: 15 credits of public administration.


  1. The faculty internship coordinator holds regularly scheduled group presentations which you must attend before coming for individual help. It is extremely helpful to formulate a list of internship interests. This may facilitate your placement and help you identify more personally relevant and rewarding positions. Internships exist to provide students with experiential learning; therefore, positions that involved purely routine, low skill, clerical work are not acceptable. Internship are to be an off-campus experience; internship credit will not be earned by on-campus work.
  2. Once you have attended the meeting, visit the faculty internship coordinator, as necessary, to discuss your internship interests and possible positions.
  3. You also can use the world wide web to locate possible internship placements. The Department will maintain links to internships sites. You can also use search engines to find possible placements. If you do not know how to use search engines you may ask the faculty internship coordinator for assistance.
  4. Contact a potential internship provider and express an interest in position. Make an appointment for an interview.
  5. Prepare a resume and a list of references. See the suggestions below. Take resume, references and a writing sample to the interview. Also take a copy of your proposed class schedule. For a federal position you may need the SF-171 . (You may want to check on this; many agencies no longer use SF-171.)
  6. At the interview, offer the interviewer your resume, discuss the nature of the internship, and attempt to ascertain if it is what you want to do. Be sure to ask questions about the tasks you will be expected to do, and express an interest in getting involved in specific activities that will expand your knowledge and skills. Be sure that the internship is substantive enough to meet the departmental expectations. If the opportunity appears satisfactory, conclude a tentative, verbal agreement with the provider.
  7. If the interview does not lead to a placement follow up with a thank you note.
  8. Execute an INTERNSHIP TRAINING AGREEMENT form with the provider. Return it to the faculty internship coordinator no later than the first work week.


Internship providers want to know if you have a background compatible with the work you are about to undertake. They need to judge whether you have some potential for learning from them. They also need some assurance that you will be a responsible, willing worker. A brief resume helps them make these assessments.

Prepare your resume with a word processor and emphasize everything in your experience and training that is relevant to the internship you are seeking. You may wish to prepare a separate resume tailored to each internship for which you are applying. See the Office of Career Development for further advice on resumes.

  1. A statement of an objective: An Internship with __________________.
  2. Work experience, even if it seems irrelevant to the internship. Internship providers like to know if you are industrious and have shown initiative in the job market. However, emphasize work experience that is relevant to the internship.
  3. Academic preparation: any honors and your GPA, if it is something of which to be proud. Again course work that is relevant to the internship should be emphasized.
  4. Extracurricular/organizational activities. Again emphasize anything relevant to the internship.
  5. Career interests. The career interests should seem compatible with the internship.
  6. Personal data such as name, address (school and permanent), telephone number.
  7. You should also have your list of references ready and available. References from work supervisors and professors are best.


Internship providers expect you to display a high level of interest and initiative, just as you would be expected to display on any job. They expect an acceptance of the nature of the work situation, what ever it may be. They do NOT like students who treat the internship as just so many hours a day to be gotten through.

You will have established a schedule with the provider; he/she will expect you to report to work promptly. You should take care to meet your scheduled commitment. Providers DO NOT like for students to put other activities before their internship commitment. Avoid changing your internship schedule to meet other obligations. If it proves to be essential that you alter your regular schedule, do NOT wait until the last minute or the last day to inform the internship provider.

Providers of internships expect your dress, appearance, and behavior to be consistent with the standards (expectations) of the work place. They, their clients, and your co-workers will base much of their opinion of you on these three things. In the "work world" appearances are important. Failure to appreciate this fact will give a bad impression.


To receive academic credit for the internship and to avoid grade penalties, all of the following must be met:

  1. APPLICATION: Submit the INTERNSHIP APPLICATION to the faculty internship coordinator prior to registration. You cannot register for the course without submitting this application.
  2. REGISTRATION: Upon approval of your application, you will be granted an override by the faculty internship coordinator permitting you to register. Once this override is entered in the system, you will receive an e-mail notifying you that you may register for the appropriate internship course.
  3. AGREEMENT: Complete (with your internship provider) the INTERNSHIP TRAINING AGREEMENT and return it to faculty internship coordinator.
  4. WORK: Complete the 240 or more work hours required.
    - Keep a DAILY LOG that reports the days and hours worked as well as each day's activities and any notes on what you have learned. Submit this to the faculty internship coordinator at the end of the internship.
    - Write a RESEARCH PAPER (not less than ten pages) that is related to the work of the office or agency in which you are working. The topic of this research project should be determined in consultation with your internship provider and your faculty internship coordinator.
    - Write a CAREER REPORT (not less than five pages) analyzing your internship experience as a learning experience and what insight it has given you into a career in the office or agency in which you worked. Submit your paper to the coordinator at the end of the internship.
  6. STUDENT'S EVALUATION OF INTERNSHIP: Turn in this form at the end of the internship with your papers and log.
  7. PROVIDER'S EVALUATION OF INTERN: Give this form to your internship supervisor who should mail it to the faculty internship coordinator. This form requires an assessment of your work performance during the internship (see FINAL GRADE below). Supervisors should mail this form to:
    Faculty Internship Coordinator
    Department of Political Science
    91 E Grace St., MSC 7705
    James Madison University
    Harrisonburg, VA 22807


DAILY LOG: The log constitutes a record of the students time and internship activities. It need not be a detailed diary; however, many students find adding detail to the log provides resource material for the CAREER REPORT discussed below. The log should be legible and the description of activities should not be so brief as to be ambiguous or vague. When keeping the log, avoid violating any rules of confidentiality of your internship provider.

RESEARCH REPORT: A major component of the student's internship will be a research paper that the student will write on a topic related to the activity of the agency/office. The student should develop the topic to be researched in consultation with the internship supervisor and the faculty internship coordinator.

The exercise of research skills and the relevance of the subject matter, not the length, are most important here. In the third week of the internship, submit to the faculty internship coordinator a two-page prospectus which outlines specifically what the paper will do. The prospectus should include a discussion of methodology, data resources and bibliography of seven sources.

CAREER REPORT: Your report should be written carefully since it tells the faculty internship coordinator (the grader) not only what you have done in the internship but also what you gained from the experience. Be sure to discuss your paper with your faculty internship coordinator before beginning to write: each faculty internship coordinator may have somewhat different expectations of the paper. The report should be no less than four pages in length and typed. It is the intern's responsibility to ensure that the type is dark enough that the paper can be read easily by the faculty internship coordinator. Take care to write your paper in correct English. You will be graded down for incorrect grammar, poor word choice, misspellings, and other errors. Your career report constitutes 30 percent of your grade for the internship.

Your career report should NOT be simply a description of your on-the-job activities; rather, it should report the basis facts of your work situation and then proceed to analyze your experience both in professional and personal terms. Attach appendices of any studies, reports, or projects which you have prepared or helped to prepare.

Here are some questions which can help you generate ideas for your paper:

  1. Can you give an overview of your experiences as they relate to law-political science-public administration (as appropriate)?
  2. Are there specific events in which you participated or were there particular problems that you observed from which lessons can be learned? (Expand on this.)
  3. Are there things that you have studied as theory that you have found confirmed or not confirmed by reality?
  4. How was the experience valuable to you? How could it have been made more valuable?
  5. Are there any types of political influence which affect the organization you worked for?
  6. From your observations of the organization, can you think of any measures which would improve the organization's effectiveness?
  7. Was your perspective on the legal profession-public employment-politics (as appropriate) altered as a result of your experience?
  8. How has this experience affected what you plan to do in your future work life?


Your final grade in the course is based on your internship provider's evaluation of your performance (30 percent), your research report (30 percent), the Career Report (30 percent) and your adherence to the various administration requirements, e.g., deadlines, required forms and information (10 percent).

Near the end of the semester/summer session in which you have enrolled, you must begin to concentrate on completing internship requirement so that a grade can be awarded. If you want to avoid a grade of incomplete (I) for the internship, you must submit your log, STUDENT'S EVALUATION OF INTERNSHIP form, and papers to the faculty internship coordinator ONE WEEK BEFORE THE EXAM PERIOD OF THE SESSION. Your PROVIDER'S EVALUATION OF INTERN must be received by the last day of the session.

Due to the nature of internships, the semester or sessions will in some cases end before the internship is complete. In this situation, a student may arrange an incomplete with the permission of her or his faculty internship coordinator. An incomplete which has not received prior approval from the faculty internship coordinator will result in a grade penalty. An incomplete must be resolved within one month of the end of the session or semester in which the incomplete was received. Failure to complete all requirements within one month of the end of the session or semester will result in a penalty of one full grade (e.g., an A would become a B). Failure to complete all requirements within two months of the end of the session or semester will result in a penalty of two full grades; three months, three full grades; four months, four full grades or an automatic failure (F).

Inquiries concerning internships should be directed to:

Jennifer A. Taylor, Ph.D.
Internship Coordinator
Department of Political Science
James Madison University
91 East Grace Street, MSC 7705
Miller Hall 2183
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Phone: 540-568-6149
FAX: 540-568-8021

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