Public Service Internship Program

The Department of Political Science encourages students to enhance the practical side of their education through internships available in the department’s internship program.  Students can receive credit for their internship experience by enrolling in PLS 494.  Students can enroll for 3-6 credits of PLS 494 depending on how many hours per week they work at their internship (see below).  Students can enroll in PLS 494 more than once, up to a total of 12 credits while attending MSU.

Application Process

To apply for PLS 494 (Prof. Matzke’s section) you must submit the following material:
(1) A completed Internship Application Form, available here: PLS 494 Internship Application
(2) A current copy of your resume
(3) A cover letter stating career goals, reasons for seeking the internship, and your expectations for the internship

Place your completed application material in the PLS 494 mailbox located in 303 South Kedzie Hall.  If you have questions regarding the internship process contact the Internship Coordinator, Professor Charles Matzke, matzkec@msu.edu.

PLS 494 Prerequisites

Submitting an application for PLS 494 does not guarantee acceptance.  Prior to applying for PLS 494 you should meet with your academic advisor to review your eligibility criteria.  In order to qualify for this program, two academic criteria must be met:

  • Proven academic success
  • Interns must have completed 28 credits by the start of their internship

PLS 494 Requirements

There are two components of PLS 494: the academic component and the practical internship component.  Students who choose to apply to this program are responsible for the successful completion of the requirements of the department and of their internship.

Academic Component

In order to receive credit for PLS 494, students must ensure that they adhere to the academic guidelines for the course:

  • Interns must complete all assignments for this class, submit all hours worked, and complete all evaluation materials
  • Interns must adhere to all posted dates and deadlines – no late assignments will be accepted
Credits Total Hours
6 270
5 225
4 180
3 135

 

All students will be required to complete writing assignments throughout the semester, which is intended to enhance the practical experience of the internship.  While the course is graded on a PASS/NO CREDIT basis, any assignments not up to the standards expected of an upper-level undergraduate student will result in a student being dismissed from the program and receiving a grade of NO CREDIT.

Internship Component

Students are responsible for securing their own internship placements. Generally, this placement can be in a variety of areas within the following guidelines:

    • Internships must be related to government, politics, policy, law, civil society, or public service
    • All internships must be approved by the internship coordinator

 

What is an Internship?

An internship is an out-of-classroom experience designed to augment a student’s regular course of study.  An internship should provide a student with the opportunity to experience the type of work done by those in the student’s chosen field.

An internship is not a job.  Full or part-time employment does not offer the same learning opportunities as an internship. Although paid internships are permissible, it is difficult to distinguish between part-time employment (which is prohibited) and a paid internship.  Paid employment typically involves different supervisor-employee relationships, different objectives, and less structured learning than does an internship.  As such, the internship coordinator must verify that a paid internship is designed primarily as a learning experience for such an internship to qualify for PLS 494 credits.

Internship Opportunities

Because Michigan State University is located in such close proximity to the capital of Michigan, students have found many opportunities with the Michigan legislature and state agencies.  In addition to these opportunities, there are many local opportunities available to our students that can be located through the help of the internship coordinator.  Internships not only provide work experience but also serve as a bridge to future career choices.

Finding an Internship

Interested students must first meet with their academic advisor to review eligibility criteria and have the advisor portion of the internship application form completed.  Next, students should meet with Professor Charles Matzke, Internship Coordinator, to identify several possible internships they might be interested in applying for.  Much like the political job market, no single list of openings for interns exist.  Finding a superior internship will require research and legwork on your part.  You many want to contact organizations or legislators you are interested in and ask them if they have any intern positions open for the semester.  Specific internship opportunities may be found on Handshake, Michigan State University’s Career Management System, and Internships@State.  Internship opportunities specific to political science will also be posted on the MSU Political Science Facebook page as they arise.  Please “like” the Facebook page.

When you apply for internships, be prepared to submit a typed and professionally presented resume, cover letter, writing sample, and/or a list of references (including name, contact information, and relationship).  In addition, you may be invited for an interview.  During the interview, ensure that you present yourself professionally, and do not be afraid to ask questions to determine what type of work you will be doing.  You may choose to contact the internship coordinator to determine if any potential placements are satisfactory before accepting a position.

Once You Have Secured a Placement

After securing the internship placement, it is your responsibility to arrange the details of your internship with your supervisor (i.e. your employer).  You must establish a schedule that allows you to work at least three (3) hours per week for each credit you are seeking.  In addition, you should discuss with your supervisor any time off you will require (such as spring or holiday breaks), when the internship will end (you should work up until the final day of classes listed in the MSU academic calendar), and what your specific duties will be during the semester.  Please forward any questions or concerns about arranging the details of the internship to the internship coordinator.

Registration Information

PLS 494 is NOT an open enrollment course.  All students intending to enroll in PLS 494 for internship credits must receive an override from the internship coordinator and will then be enrolled by the department.  Prior to receiving an override, a student must obtain an internship, submit an application for PLS 494, and meet the course requirements.

Application Procedure Steps

(1) Download the Internship Application Form; (2) Meet with your academic advisor; (3) Secure an internship position; (4) Complete the Application Form; and, (5) Submit the Application Form with a cover letter and resume to the Internship Coordinator.