PS 99 Internship FAQs


  • An internship is simply an employment experience (paid or unpaid) that combines learning with work. A good internship provides opportunities for you to learning about a career field, while working. These opportunities generally entail some or all of the following: attendance at departmental meetings; regular meetings with your supervisor; access to reading materials; supervised preparation of reports, memos, and other documents; specific training; or the opportunities to "shadow" someone in the company, agency, or organization.

  • An internship is an active learning experience. By participating in the work of a government agency, a lobby group, a news department, or some other organization, the student can learn about the political process first hand. Internships provide students with an opportunity to test concepts learned in the classroom in a professional or organizational setting. Finally, an internship allows students to investigate potential career fields.

  • Although students are responsible for obtaining their own internships, they are not alone. The Internship Coordinator regularly receives notifications of internship opportunities and posts them on the bulletin board in the Political Science Department (Packard Hall). In addition, the PS 99 World Wide Web page will contain a continually updated list of internship opportunities with external links to the internship sponsors' websites.

    In addition to the departmental resources, there are a variety of sources for internship opportunities. These include:

    • Personal Contacts. Fellow students, faculty, administrators, friends, family and professional contacts are all potential sources of information about internship opportunities. Talk to those you know about internship search. Networking is still the most effective means for obtaining internships.
    • The Career Planning Center (Booles House, 226 College Avenue):
    • The Career Planning Center maintains a career resource library and regularly receives notices of paid and unpaid internship opportunities. In addition, Tufts University subscribes to Job Trak, a World Wide Web based resume referral and employment posting service. To access Job Trak's internship listings you need the Tufts specific password, available from the Career Planning Center
    • Tisch Library: The reference section in Tisch Library contains several books on various internships and employment opportunities. These include The Complete Guide to Public Employment and The Complete Guide to International Jobs & Careers. In addition, there are several volumes, handbooks, and publications, which you may find consult if you apply for a internship in state government or in a congressional district office. These include: The Congressional Directory, 1997-98; The Massachusetts's Legislative Manual, The Almanac of American Politics, and The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Government Handbook.
    • Other departments and interdisciplinary programs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences: The Programs in International Relations (605 Cabot) and Peace & Justice Studies (Eaton Hall, basement), and the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy (97 Talbot Hall) also allow their undergraduate majors (and graduate students, in the case of Urban and Environmental Policy) to take internship for academic credit. Like the Political Science Department, these departments and programs receive notices of various internship opportunities.
    • Internet Resources beyond Tufts University: In addition to Job Trak, there are several other on-line internship and employment resources. These include Career MosaicJob Bank-USA; and the On-line Career Center. These are also accessible through various search engines (e.g. YahooInfoseekExcite) and via the homepages of the career placement centers at other Boston-area universities.
    • Create Your Own Internship: Often the most rewarding internships are those in which the student identifies an interest and a corresponding need at an organization or agency. I encourage you to use your creativity and initiative to research and propose an internship. Learn about the organization or agency. You should consult with The Internship Coordinator if you decide to pursue this avenue.
  • In the past, many Tufts students have obtained internships in government agencies, political campaigns, foreign consulates or the media. Past and potential internship venues include:

    • District offices of US senators and representatives
    • Offices of state senators and representatives
    • Municipal or county government offices
    • Branch offices of federal executive and legislative agencies in the Boston metropolitan area (including the GAO, EPA, the Departments of Commerce, Education, State, and Health and Human Services)
    • Executive departments and offices in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (including the Office of the Governor)
    • Foreign consulates and diplomatic missions in the Boston metropolitan area (Israel, Peru, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Columbia, UK, Canada, Denmark, etc.)
    • Political campaigns for state, county and local offices
    • The news departments of area television and radio stations
    • Lobbying organizations, advocacy groups and public interests organizations
  • What a person "gets out" of an internship, largely depends on what he or she puts into it. Commit yourself fully to the experience. Try to do your best work, even with mundane tasks. Take responsibility for your own learning. This includes asking questions and seeking out new learning experiences. Seek out additional assignments, but do not take on more responsibility than you can reasonably handle. Meet regularly with your supervisor to get feedback on your work and gain information about the field, the organization, and substantive issues involved.

    Please remember, as an intern, each student represents not only herself or himself, but also the Department of Political Science and Tufts University. Please conduct yourself in a professional manner while serving as interns. Dress and act according to organizational norms. You should arrive on time and work the expected number of hours.

  • Remember, the central objective of PS 99 is to combine the academic study of politics with practical employment experience. Although many political science and international relations majors at Tufts University (like students at other colleges and universities) consider themselves "pre-law," an internship placement at a law firm would generally not be appropriate for PS 99. Generally, internships at large law firms are reserved for law school students; most firms do not hire undergraduates as interns.

Introductory Course in Political Science

  • Before being admitted to PS 99 you must have completed two of the foundation courses in the Tufts' Political Science Department (or an equivalent course if you are a transfer student). These course include:

    • Students may substitute PS 155: American Foreign Policy for PS 51.
    • PS 11: Introduction to American Politics
    • PS 21: Introduction to Comparative Politics
    • PS 41: Western Political Thought I
    • PS 42: Western Political Thought II
    • PS 61: Introduction to International Relations
  • This very much depends on your own interests, your prior political science coursework, and the nature of the internship position you seek. A related course may be a sophomore seminar (PS 90) or an upper division course (PS 99 and above). In general, the related course should provide a thematic, substantive or analytical background for your proposed internship. For example, Political Science 142: Interest Groups and Democratic Theory provides a useful foundation for students seeking internships in a political action committee or lobbying organization. PS 101: The Presidency and the Executive Branch, PS 102: Congress, Bureaucracy and Public Policy, or PS 104: Public Administration would provide a useful background for students seeking internships in a state or federal agency. Finally, courses such as PS 165: Politics of the World Economy, PS 172: European Community and Integration or the various political science courses in American, German, Japanese, and Middle Eastern foreign policy could serve as a related course for an internship in a foreign consulate.

Written Assignments and Grades

  • PS 99 must be taken for a letter. Students cannot take this course "pass-fail." There are two components are of the grade: (1) the students written work, and (2) the employer or internship supervisor's written evaluation of the student's work. The course grade will be determined as follows:

    • The Student's Written Work 50%
    • Employer's Evaluation: 50%
  • Students taking PS 99 have two options with respect to the written assignments.

    Students must decide which option they wish to pursue no later than the second week of the semester. A student who selects Option A must write both papers. Likewise, a student who selects Option B must submit the18-20 page term paper at the end of the term.

    • Option A: The student writes two 8-10 page papers on topics developed in consultation with the instructor. Each paper will require you to relate concepts and topics from a branch of the political science literature to the actual work or projects you undertake as an intern. Under this option, each paper will constitute 35% of the course grade.
    • Option B: The student writes a single 18-20 page term paper on a topic of his or her own choosing, developed in consultation with the instructor. As with the previous option, the term paper will require you to apply theory and concepts from political science. The single term paper will be due no later than 5:00 in the Internship Coordinator's office on the last day of Reading Period.
  • All papers for this course must be typed, double-spaced and printed one side only. Papers should be free of spelling and grammatical errors. Fonts must not be smaller than 11 point. There should be one inch margins on all sides of the page. A separate cover page should include the student's name, the paper's title, the course number and the date of submission. Any verbatim transcriptions or quotations must be placed in quotation marks and properly cited. Any material which is summarized or paraphrased must be specifically acknowledged. Students may use either the conventional footnote or endnote format found in the Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.) or the American Political Science Review Style Guide in-text citation system. If students use footnotes or endnotes, there is no need to include a separate bibliography.

  • There are no required readings for PS 99, per se. Like the various Directed Research courses in Political Science, the readings each student undertakes will depend largely on his or her research topic.

  • Fifty percent of the grade for PS 99 will depend on your employer's or internship supervisor's written evaluation of your work. Specifically, toward the end the semester I will mail an evaluation form to your internship supervisor or employer. On that form the employer will be asked to provide a brief written evaluation of your job performance and assign a letter grade. The employer or supervisor must return the completed form to the Political Science Department by the last day of Reading Period.

  • No. The reasons for this are largely philosophical. Tufts University students are adults. Moreover, by enrolling in PS 99 or other directed study courses the student demonstrates a certain degree of initiative and intellectual maturity. Beyond making initial referrals to potential internship sponsors, the Internship Coordinator will not serve as a mediator between the student and the employer.