What Are Internships?

Internships, broadly defined, provide training in professional careers where the interns gain valuable work experience while providing their services to an agency, organization, or business.  Political Science students are encouraged to supplement their college education with internships and other forms of experiential and service-learning as they complete the requirements for the Political Science major.  Internships give students practical experience in applying what they learn in the classroom to real-life settings.  In a tough job market internships have become increasingly important for students to get jobs.  Surveys have shown new graduates who have done one or more internships stand out among job applicants.  These days employers expect job applicants to have some kind of on-the-job training before they are hired.

Students can do internships based on their interests with the federal, state, and local government, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.   Most internships are unpaid, though there have been some lawsuits in recent years about the legality of unpaid internships.  Most government internships tend to be unpaid.

Where Have POLI Students Interned?

In the past POLI students have interned with:

Congressman Bobby Scott’s Office
Congressman Eric Cantor’s office
Democratic Party of Virginia
Republican Party of Virginia
Red Cross
Senator Mark Warner’s office
Senator Tim Kaine’s Office
State Department
VCU RamPantry
Virginia General Assembly
Virginia State Bar

Some Places to Search for Internships:

Do not forget your social network! Your friends and family might know of an internship opportunity. If there is an organization or agency you are interested in working with, contact that agency directly and ask if there are internship opportunities there.

Doing an internship for credit:

POLI students have the option of doing an internship for credit that counts towards the major.  In order to do so students must enroll in POLI 493: Internships.  Students have the option of doing an internship for 1, 3, or 6 credits.

To be eligible for enrollment in POLI 493, you must have:

  • Declared Political Science as a major, or Nonprofit Management and Administration, or Public Management minor
  • Earned at least a GPA of 2.70 in the major (If your overall GPA is less than 2.70, seek pre-approval from the Director of Internships)
  • Completed at least 9 credits at the 300-level or above towards the Political Science major (if you are unsure about whether you meet this requirement, check with POLI advising or the Director of internships)
  • If you are a Non-Profit Administration or Public Management minor and need to do an internship for credit to fulfill the requirements of the minor, contact the Director of Internships.

Students who are eligible and are interested in doing an internship for credit must fill out an application and internship agreement form.  Download Application.

If the internship meets the requirements, approval to enroll in POLI 493 will be granted.

Application Deadline:

Fall Semester August 1
Spring Semester December 1
Summer Semester April 1

POLI Internships FAQs

What is POLI 493, or internship for credit?
An internship for credit is when a student is enrolled in the course POLI 493 while doing an internship.
What are the advantages of doing an internship for credit/enrolling in POLI 493?
POLI 493 evaluates a student’s experience in the internship. The Director of Internships monitors and supervises students who are enrolled in POLI 493. Any student can do an internship, but not all students choose to enroll in POLI 493 or do the internship for credit.
Am I eligible to enroll in POLI 493?
To be eligible for enrollment in POLI 493 you must: a) be a declared Political Science major, b) have at least a 2.70 GPA, and c) have taken at least 9 course credit hours at the 300-level towards the Political Science major. Transfer students who declared Political Science as a major need to discuss their options with the Director of Internships if they do not have a VCU GPA or enough credit hours in Political Science. Students who are minoring in Non-Profit Administration or Public Management need to speak to the Director of Internships for Political Science to discuss their requirements for enrolling in POLI 493. If in doubt or if you have questions contact the Director of Internships at
Can I just sign up for POLI 493?
Enrollment in POLI 493 is by override only. Enrollment in POLI 493 must be approved by the Director of Internships who will contact POLI advising and request an override on your behalf into POLI 493. POLI advising then emails you with instructions to enroll in POLI 493. To complete registration for POLI 493 you must pay all necessary tuition and fees. If you do not register for POLI 493 and do not contact the Director of Internships to explain your inability to register, the approval to enroll in POLI 493 will be withdrawn. It is your responsibility to make sure you are registered in POLI 493 once an override has been granted. Director of Internships is the faculty on record for POLI 493 and will monitor your progress in the course as outlined in the syllabus.
How many internship credits can I take?
You can only register up to 3 credit hours of internship per semester for the Fall and Spring semester. You can take 6 credit hours of internship during the summer. Only up to 6 credit hours of internship can count towards the major. Internship credit does not fulfill concentration requirements for Political Science.
Does POLI 493 count towards the major?
Internship credit fulfills the Political Science elective requirement and cannot be applied toward the concentration.
How many work hours count towards credit in POLI 493?
One credit hour equals 50 hours of work. For example, 3 hours of internship credit require 150 hours of work during the semester in which student applies for internship credit. You must be sure that you are able to work this amount of hours during the semester you plan to do an internship for credit.
Can I enroll in POLI 493 for an internship I have already completed?
There is no retroactive credit for internships done in the past.
Where do I find an internship?
You are responsible for securing internships; the Director of Internships does not place students in internships but will assist in finding internships. You can search for internships based on your interests using the Career Services HireVCURams or other internship and job databanks, some of which are listed on the internship webpage. The internships in announcements sent out on the POLI listserv can be done for credit.
If I got an internship after the application deadline, can I still enroll in POLI 493?
If your internship application is approved, you have up to 3 weeks from the start of Spring and Fall semester and 1 week from the start of the summer session to register for POLI 493.

The syllabus will either be emailed or posted on Blackboard by the first day of the semester. You will be graded on your performance in the internship based on the evaluations submitted by the intern supervisor as well as your completion of the internship course requirements as outlined in the course syllabus.


For more information contact:

Dr. Alexandra Reckendorf
827 W. Franklin Street
Room 306
Richmond, VA 23286