Within its courses & beyond the classroom, our department and its programs are dedicated to helping students explore career fields while developing skills relevant in the workplace. This page summarizes several of these activities.

Experiential Learning

Our courses require students to deal with real-life societal problems that involve a wide array of stakeholders with relevance for public-sector, nonprofit, and private-sector concerns. The exploration of these topics provide skill-building opportunities:

  • extensive analytical writing & research into varied public problems
  • examination of issues from local, regional, national, & global perspectives
  • policy briefs, issue debates, and policymaking simulations
  • team-based discussions of problem identification and of potential solutions
  • field projects involving governmental & nonprofit agencies

Beyond classroom-based courses, departmental students have other opportunities for skill development & career exploration:

  • POSC 498 (Research in Political Science) permits undergraduates to develop research skills by working with faculty members.
  • POSC 499 (Senior Honors Projects) enables Honors College students to conduct a three-semester research project on a topic of interest to them.
  • Our academic internship program permits students in all of undergraduate & graduate programs to work for relevant public & nonprofit organizations while earning credit toward their JMU degrees.
  • JMU's Washington Semester program gives students a chance to conduct a full-time, semester-long internship while also networking with an array of public & international affairs professionals.
  • Varied off-campus teams deal with contemporary public affairs issues while interacting with practitioners, researchers, & students from other colleges & universities.
  • Departmental faculty also lead several study-abroad programs that permit students to study global issues beyond the borders of the United States

Career Development Events

Our Department's Career Peer Advising program generates several workshops each year while also providing a cohort of students able to advise fellow students with regard to departmental and campus resources to support internship & job searches.

The department & its Alumni Board co-sponsor three annual career workshops – two on campus, the other in Washington, DC. These put students in direct contact with alumni working in fields related to our majors: policymaking, campaign politics, law, the non-profit sector, international NGOs, lobbying, intelligence, government contracting, as well as for state, local and federal agencies.

Beyond these on-campus events, each year in Richmond & in Washington dinner and lunch events are designed to enable networking among alumni and also with current students. 

In turn, back on campus the Public Affairs Student Organization helps the department to organize small-group discussions of contemporary events as well as career talks by individual public affairs practitioners about different career fields.

Continuing Education Opportunities

Departmental faculty members also contribute their expertise to JMU's Non-Profit Institute, which is offered annually to support professionals here in the Shenandoah Valley.

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