Inquiries concerning the department's undergraduate internships for political science, international affairs, and public administration students (POSC 493, PPA 494, POSC 495, & PPA 496) should be directed to Dr. Rob Alexander, the Undergraduate Internship Coordinator, at alexanrw@jmu.eduYou are on the main webpage for the JMU Department of Political Science's undergraduate internship program, so please consult these online resources and then contact Dr. Alexander if you have further questions.

If you are a potential internship sponsor group, organization, or agency, please head here to submit your interest in hosting a student intern.

Beyond those 4 undergraduate academic internships, you might be interested in other academic internships offered by other programs in housed in our department:

Who can pursue a POSC 493, PPA 494, POSC 495, or PPA 496 undergraduate internship for academic credit?

As academic internships are intended to build on a pre-existing base of knowledge and skills from your undergraduate course of study, you must:

  • POSC 493: Have junior or senior standing; have a 2.0 GPA or higher; meet these 4 course prerequisites: POSC 225, SCOM 240, SCOM 241 and one other core PCOM required course; obtain the political communication minor coordinator's permission; and then request permission from the undergraduate internship coordinator. 

  • PPA 494, POSC 495, & PPA 496: Be either a junior or senior who has completed five courses in your program; have a 2.0 GPA or higher; and receive the undergraduate internship coordinator’s permission prior to enrollment.

To register for an academic internship you must submit an Academic Internship Enrollment Application to the internship coordinator. Undergraduate students receive four credits for completing 240 or more hours at their internship placement. Students wishing to do internships during the summer sessions must apply and register by June 1st for internships in the eight-week summer session. Students wishing to conduct internships during an academic semester need to apply prior to the desired semester, preferably well in advance. Students may enroll for internships in MyMadison under the following titles: 

  • POSC 493 Internship in Political Communication (4 credits): Provides students with communication experiences in policymaking, campaigning, media, legislative politics, and lobbying.
  • PPA 494 Internship in Public Policy (4 credits): Provides students with opportunities for experiential learning in organizations engaged with public policy formulation & analysis.
  • POSC 495 Internship in Political Science (4 credits): Provides students with experiential learning related to legislative work, policy-making, campaign, constituency, interest group, and/or the judiciary.
  • PPA 496 Internship in Public Management (4 credits): Provides students with opportunities for experiential learning in either a governmental, nonprofit or other public service application.

Finding an Internship

It is your responsibility to identify prospective internships based on your career interests and goals. If you are unsure of resources available you should email the internship coordinator.  In order to help with your search, reflect on where you would like your internship to be, what type of skills you would like to do in your role as intern, and whether you are seeking paid or unpaid, among other considerations. Additionally, internships must expose students to an array of tools that public servants use, so purely clerical positions are inappropriate.

Once you have identified a viable internship placement, complete any application process that the provider might want. On occasions where organizations do not have an internship opening posted, it is always possible to email and ask if they would want an intern; organizations rarely turn down help! It is typical for the internship provider to interview you before finalizing the agreement, so treat this interview like you would for any other job. Dress professionally, research the organization, and demonstrates ways that you would benefit the organization and learn new skills. Once the organization has agreed to host you, formalize the arrangement by preparing an Internship MOU with the provider. Return it to the undergraduate internship coordinator no later than your first week on your internship.

Treat your internship experience as you would treat any organization with which you might want to launch your career. While the details of your work arrangement will be tailored to your organization, you should strive to display a high level of interest and initiative. You should maintain high levels of professionalism in your appearance, attitude, and performance.

For some food for thought regarding the diversity of public affairs and public service internship opportunities, click to see a list of recent placements for our departmental internship program.

For additional ideas regarding your internship search, click to see a discussion of internship websites and other resources that you can use to identify potential opportunities

Undergraduate Academic Internship Checklist

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

  1. Identify where you want to complete your internship
  2. Review internship guidelines and submit an online Enrollment Application
  3. Register for the internship credit hours on MyMadison
  4. Prepare and sign the Internship MOU online
  5. Complete all your hours of service and job duties 
  6. Complete your Career Report and either a Research Report or a Competency Portfolio  
  7. Complete your online evaluation of your internship experience
  8. Your supervisor completes their online evaluation of your performance
  • The Academic Internship Enrollment Application form must be read, completed, digitally signed and submitted to the undergraduate internship coordinator before enrolling in the internship & beginning the internship experience. 

Then, before or at the beginning of the internship experience, the student, their internship supervisor, and the undergraduate internship coordinator will complete the Internship Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Graded Components of POSC 493, PPA 494, POSC 495, & PPA 496

Internship Supervisor Evaluation (30%): Your supervisor will fill out a comprehensive form your work performance as an intern. This will focus not only on the tasks you completed and their quality, but also the level of professionalism with which you carried yourself.

Research Report or Competency Portfolio (30%): In conjunction with your faculty advisor, you will design and complete either an original research report on a topic of relevance to your internship or a competency portfolio that accumulates internship-based artifact evidence that you have gained those competencies. Your faculty advisor will work with you to decide which of these two options you will pursue by the third week of the internship.  

Career Report (30%): Your career report is an opportunity for you to draw critical connections between your internship and the principles you have studied in your major or minor. It also provides a platform for reflective inquiry regarding how the internship experience and your related coursework inform your career plans. This report will analyze your internship experience within both professional and personal contexts.   

Daily Log, Weekly Check-Ins, Evaluations (10%): You are required to log your hours and tasks in a format that you can easily share with your faculty advisor each week. Simultaneously, you will arrange for a weekly check-in to raise any issues or questions that arise. You also will arrange for a site visit, either in-person or virtual, where you, your internship supervisor, and your faculty advisor will sit down and discuss your progress. In turn, over the course of the internship, you will complete all required forms given to you by the Undergraduate Internship Coordinator.

Note: In certain cases it is possible that the academic session in which you are enrolled may end before the internship ends. In this case, you must work with the internship coordinator in order to be granted an grade of ‘incomplete,’ allowing you time to finish your qualifications. Certain regulations exist for having an incomplete, and you should consult with your internship coordinator throughout the process to avoid any grade penalties.

Questions?

For initial inquiries related to POSC 493, PPA 494, POSC 495, & PPA 496, contact:

Robert Alexander, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Internship Coordinator
Department of Political Science
James Madison University
91 East Grace Street, MSC 7705
Miller Hall 2147
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Email: alexanrw@jmu.edu 
Phone: 540-568-3771
FAX: 540-568-8021

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