One of the most effective ways of getting experience while in college is to intern in an office where people practice politics, policy making, law, or international development. Internships provide valuable, hands-on experience that both give you an insight into a career path and provide you with an experiential component for your portfolio (see the advising page for information on building a portfolio). In some cases, The Department of Political Science can assist you in finding an internship; in many others, you will have to do the investigative work yourself. In most cases, academic credit can be arranged (although this is not a given -- it must be arranged in advance). Acceptance to an internship is by no means automatic; in many ways, it's like applying for a job. Many internships require good academic performance and references.
Our most extensive internship programs are in southwest Michigan and in Lansing. The latter, the Capital Internship program, has been underway for over a decade and has placed qualified interns in offices throughout the executive and legislative branches of Michigan government, as well as in the lobbying and non-profit sectors. In southwest Michigan, interns regularly serve in city and village managers' offices, in other local agencies, and in business development and non-profit organizations.
These internships are very popular with students and the department has sponsored interns for more than 30 years. Some students are able to directly convert an internship into a job upon graduation, while others are able to continue in their internships throughout the summer. Internships are always a very good experience in regard to networking and on-the-job training.
See frequently asked questions for more information on the capital and local internship programs.
Placements include positions with City Managers in 13 different cities; various internships ranging from Assessor to Personnel, to Planning and County Development, to Purchasing, to Recreation, to Zoning (and 23 others) in a number of cities; in addition there are internships at the Village, Township, and County levels of government. Also, internships with elected officials/campaigns, health and human services, and judicial placements.
These internships are based in Lansing. Many internships are available with State Representatives and State Senators; with all departments of state government including Dept. of Civil Rights, Dept. of Community Health, and Dept. of Education; internships in the Governor's Office; in the Judicial area; with legislative organizations including the House Democratic Policy staff, House Republicans Programs and Research, the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies, the Legislative Service Bureau, the Senate Majority Policy Office, and the Senate Democratic Caucus. A number of other state level internships are in the areas of lobbying, research, consultants, and non-profits.
The Department of Political Science and the Lee Honors College are now working very hard to place students in internships in Washington, D.C. There are more than 1,000 Western graduates living and working in the Washington, D.C. area. Beginning in the Fall 2003 semester, the Western Herald will be providing profiles on a number of these former students. It is suggested that these profiles be consulted to get an idea of the great variety of possible internships/jobs in D.C.
There are some web sites that may be useful in informing you about different types of internships and jobs in Washington, D.C. The Washington Center. www.studentjobs.gov. and www.usajobs.opm.gov
Examples of where Western’s Political Science students have interned in Washington D.C. include the lobbying firm Kinghorn, Hillbert and Associates; National Milk Producers Association; U.S. Representatives including Representatives Conyers, Ford, Hoekstra, Knollenberg, Levin, Siljander, Wolpe, and Wirth; U.S. Senators including Senators Levin and Riegel.
Examples of where graduates of our Political Science program work include: Defenders of Wildlife; Office of the Inspector General; House Commerce Committee; Chief of Staff for Congressman Tom Feeney of Florida; SCM Associates (fundraising consulting firm; AFL-CIO (Association of Flight Attendants); Computer Sciences Corporation Federal Sector (FCC Programming Services Contract); Berkshire Mortgage Finance (Vice President and Loan Originator); Department of State (Foreign Service Officer); Congressman Buck McKeon; Senator Christopher Dodd; American Jewish Committee.
Although not always easy to arrange, international internships are a rewarding and effective way to get international experience. International internships fall into two categories: those that take place in another country, and those that take place with an organization devoted to some aspect of international affairs but which are based in the US. (There are many of the latter.) Students have served in internships in the German Bundestag, German state parliaments, and development NGOs in India and South Africa. On the advising page for the International and Comparative Politics major, you'll find some links to help your search.