Internship Information

The following information is applicable for internships through the Department of Political Science at Western Michigan University.

Requirements for Interns- Before your Internship

  • The junior year is the best time to complete an internship. The 15-hour requirement for political science classes has usually been met by then and depending on the internship experience a student might want to pursue different courses in the senior year or complete a second internship in an entirely different area.
  • You do not need to be a political science major to pursue an internship. However, preference is given first to political science majors, then to political science minors and then to any students who have taken at least 15 hours of political science credit by the semester before the internship would begin.
  • A minimum grade point average of 2.5 is required or a 3.0 in 15 or more hours of political science classes. Most interns have a grade point average of over 3.0 but 2.5 can qualify you for the program.
  • If your major is declared in political science and you want to do an internship in your major, talk to your major adviser about the types of intern experiences.You may be referred to Dr. Houghton or to some other member of the department to pursue the internship.
  • An internship is not required for credit in any of the majors or minors in the Department of Political Science, but it may be important to complete an internship. Each student has different goals. Participating in Mock Trial, Western Student Association, having a job and other factors might not make an internship a practical option. If you are very certain of your career path, an internship might not be needed. On the whole, an internship is recommended. You interview for your own internship. You ultimately decide what internship you will have; no faculty member makes the choice for you. Therefore, if the internship seems to fit your goals it is likely a good investment of your time.
  • Not everyone who has 15 hours or more of political science classes and at least a 2.5 grade point average can obtain placement in an internship. Most internships are served during the spring semester through Dr. David Houghton. There is room for up to 25 interns. Internships can also be served during fall and summer sessions but students must initiate the internship on their own with individual faculty members. If you do not have a faculty adviser, stop by the political science office in 3302 Friedmann Hall and you will be directed to one.
  • Have a resume available when you talk to a faculty member about an internship and state your goals on it.
  • If you have no idea of what you might want to do in an internship, think about the courses that you have had that most interested you. Follow that up with a general discussion with your adviser. Then make an appointment to see Dr. Houghton if you still are uncertain. He has been working with interns since 1978 and he will be able to help you sort out your best options.
  • To make contact with the office that you hope to work in:
    • Be accepted into the spring program or accepted by a faculty supervisor.
    • Contact personnel in the office in which you seek to intern.
    • In the spring program, Dr. Houghton will make all needed contacts and will arrange two to four interviews for you. The interviews are set up in a one day period for you. You then decide which office you prefer to work in. Additional interviews can be arranged if you do not find the right fit
  • To pursue the spring program, make an appointment to see Dr. Houghton by calling the political science office at (269) 387-5681 so that he can put your name on a list. Some students have their names put on this list up to two years before doing an internship. Do this as soon as possible; however, being on the list does not guarantee an internship.

It is useful to think ahead about what you want to do after graduation and then to think about whether a placement in a professional setting would further your goals.

Information about Political Science internships- During your internship

Dr. Montgomery visits the Capital Interns, Dr. Bischof- Lee Honors College, Dr. Kortsky- CAS dean, Dr. Clark- department of Political Science chair

  • The spring program requires all day Tuesdays and Thursdays for the duration of the semester. Two mini-vans are available for 15 students to go to Lansing each spring. There is no cost to the intern for travel on these vehicles to Lansing. All other internships with Dr. Houghton require two days per week also. You will need to talk to other department members to get exact specifications as to their requirements if you seek to pursue an internship separate from the spring program.
  • All of our internships have various writing assignments. The faculty member sponsoring the internship will specify the requirements
  • All internships are for various numbers of credit hours that are determined by the number of hours worked in the placement. For example, in the spring program, four hours of credit are earned for completing two eight-hour days per week for the semester or roughly 240 contact hours. Written assignments are included as a part of the required work.
  • You will not receive a letter grade for an internship. The evaluation is on a credit or no credit basis.
  • The intern program is affiliated with Lee Honors College. Since 1991, the Lee Honors College and the Department of Political Science have jointly worked together on the Lansing Capital Intern Program. If you are a member of the Lee Honors College you may be able to join our spring program without having had previous political science classes.
  • Usually you do not get paid as an intern. Most offices are looking to give you an experience while you earn credit hours. However, each year some students at the end of the internship are offered a full-time job while some others are offered summer employment. Most interns seek to get job experience and they are not looking to get immediate employment.
  • The mini-vans to Lansing are available for the spring program only. Travel for other internships will be your responsibility.

On the basis of two mail surveys conducted with former interns (in 1997 and in 2000), 100 percent stated that they would recommend the experience to new majors.