Political Science Major

Internship Program

Capitol in Augusta


Update (Fall 2022): Professor Klotz is teaching the Fall 2022 Political Science Internship Seminar.  


What is an Internship in Political Science?

Internships are temporary, part-time, professional-level experiences for students with some background in the social sciences. Among college students who have been recently hired, about two-thirds had internship experience according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Conveying workforce readiness, internships provide the experience that employers are demanding in addition to the bachelors degree. They also strengthen graduate school applications by showing a seriousness of purpose.

The USM Political Science Program offers a structured 6-credit hour program for local internships during the fall and spring semesters. Interns work from 12-15 hours weekly in public sector positions at the federal, state, and local levels or in politically-related private sector positions. They attend six seminars during the semester which connect work experience to social science frameworks and secure interaction with other interns in a similar situation.

What are the advantages to the student?

The advantages are numerous. Some of them are tangible, some are not. Here's what some former interns have said about the program's advantages:

  • An entree to careers: "Who would have guessed that I would have ended up running a whip office in Congress?"
  • Focusing career choices: "The internship has greatly influenced my decision to study public administration in graduate school."
  • Increased maturity: "I've become more persistent and assertive. I've learned to cope with criticism. I've learned that once I accept a responsibility I have to follow through with it."
  • Enjoyable experience: "From the first day on the job until the last, I found my internship was a marvelous experience. The internship was the best and most rewarding part of my college education."

Who may participate?

The internship program is for students in good academic standing who demonstrate interest and ability to profit from such an educational experience. Interns should have a willingness to deal with the public, a capacity for solving problems, an ability to write clearly, and a sense of responsibility.

How many credits will I earn and how do they count towards my degree?

The local internships are worth 6 credits: the Washington internships are worth 9 credits.  If you are a political science major, the credits count towards the required twelve hours of 300-400 level courses.  If you are not a political science major, the credits count as university electives towards the required 120 credit hours for graduation.  

Can I get political science internship credit for more than one local internship while at USM?

No. A student can earn political science credit for no more than one local internship (POS 475 or 480).  The granting of six-credit hours is substantially based on the academic component of the internship seminar, which is a series of joint meetings for all local interns.  Thus, retaking the internship seminar with a different internship would be substantially retaking the course.  Students who wish to receive academic credit for additional internships are encouraged to explore internship opportunities in other departments.

Do I receive pay?

It depends on the internship. Please check with the employer.

What will my work be like?

Political science students find internships in a wide range of offices. There are internships available in the local offices of Maine's Congressional delegation. Interns spend most of their time solving the problems of individual constituents (interceding with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.) The Washington internships provide students with the opportunity to assist in the preparation of legislation. (Generally interns focus on one particular policy.) Municipal interns provide staff assistance for the City Manager--helping to prepare the budget and working to promote greater productivity in city government. The state interns may work for the political parties in the legislature or they may perform research tasks for administrative agencies. The private sector interns may do research on civil liberties issues, attempt to promote the development of Portland as an international port, or assist in promoting a more active dialogue between business and government.  In short, the nature of the work will vary with the internship.

What course number should I register for?

To receive credit, local interns should register for the six-credit POS 475 Political Science Internship Seminar.  International Studies Track students who are working at an internship with some connection to international politics should register for the six-credit POS 480 International Affairs Internship.  Full-time interns outside of the region should register for the nine-credit POS 476 Out of State Internship. 

I can't do it because...

  • I can't see myself performing capably on that level. Our field supervisors are always helpful and encouraging, introducing you to the challenging parts of the job when you can handle them--not before.
  • I don't have time. The internship program is demanding. You must work 12-15 hours a week and prepare for seminars. For this reason it is advisable to register for no more than 9 credits in other courses. It is also advisable to plan ahead.

OK, I'm interested.  Where can I get more information?

Please contact the Political Science Department Chair.