An internship is an essential part of your experience as a political science major or minor. It will help you discover which career is right for you, build your resume, and link your academic experience to the real world. This website offers information on how to find (and finance) an internship and how to receive course credit for it. For more information, contact our Experiential Learning Coordinator or join our Canvas page!
Students can earn up to six credits toward their degree for internship experience during the academic year or summer semesters. Students receive one credit for every 50 hours of internship work, which can be applied to the Political Science major and Nonprofit and Public Management minor elective requirements. Among other requirements, an approved internship should be relevant to politics and government, such as work for government offices, nonprofit groups, political campaigns, law offices, media outlets, lobbying groups, etc. Once your internship is approved and confirmed, you will receive an override to enroll in the POLI 493 internship course.
Why should I seek academic credit for my internship?
Students must pay VCU tuition to enroll in the POLI 493 internship class. Using these credits to fulfill graduation or major requirements is a great option to free up time in your schedule. You should participate in at least one internship while at VCU and receiving academic credit for it allows you the flexibility to maintain your preferred course load without the need to reduce your academic commitments. And you can be paid for your internship and still receive course credit!
How can I apply for credit?
You must have a confirmed internship before you enroll in POLI 493, the course assigned for internship credit. After you have received an offer of employment, email the Internship Coordinator at email@example.com to receive the form you need to fill out to enroll. Once the application form is approved, your supervisor will sign an agreement form articulating the responsibilities of both parties. Once the agreement form is received, your POLI advisor will provide you with override instructions for enrolling in the POLI 493 course. It is the student’s responsibility to complete this final step of enrolling in course credits.
Enrolling in POLI 493 will require you to turn in timecards demonstrating hours worked, write three reflection statements about your time, and turn in a writing sample from work.
How do I find an internship?
There is no “right” way to find an internship – you should try a wide range of options, including informational interviews, browsing Handshake, and reading the weekly POLI Experiential Learning newsletter (email the Experiential Learning Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!).
VCU has several programs that provide experiential learning opportunities:
- The Virginia Capitol Semester program – offered in the Spring semester only – connects students with internships at the Virginia Assembly while enrolled in a course on Virginia politics.
- The VCU Sustainability Internship program offers semester- and year-long paid internships to students interested in working on sustainability initiatives at VCU.
Internships in Richmond
Employers – in Richmond and nationally – regularly advertise internships through Handshake and at Career Fairs organized through Career Services. In addition, POLI has developed relationships with several local organizations (such as the Richmond City Circuit Court) where we place VCU interns. For information, contact the Experiential Learning Coordinator at email@example.com.
How do I afford this?
Internships are often unpaid or paid less than other opportunities. In order to meet this need, the Political Science Department and VCU offer a variety of stipends and scholarships.
For POLI Majors only:
- Experiential Learning Stipend – up to $1000 for academic year internships
VCU Scholarships (all for summer internships, deadlines for all in March):
- VCU Internship Funding Program
- Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Endowed Fund - up to $5,000
- R. Grayson Weiler Scholarship for Experiential Learning – for rising juniors and seniors
- Karen and Ike Carter Scholarship for Experiential Learning – for rising juniors and seniors