Internships in the Government and Law Department provide juniors and seniors with the opportunity to study political science through fieldwork and practical experience. 

internshipInternships consist of unpaid and professionally supervised work in one of the following settings:  a governmental agency, a law firm or legal department, a political campaign, a news organization, or a public interest or non-governmental organization.

Students who pursue an internship will be graded on a credit/no credit basis.  Credit for an internship counts for a full course and is designated as Govt 380.  Internships must be approved for credit prior to participation; no credit will be awarded ex post facto for internships.

In order to qualify for internship course credit, the fieldwork must be extensive, interactive, and intellectually challenging:

  1. Time commitment.  The intern must make and honor a commitment of 110-120 hours of on-site fieldwork, plus additional on-campus reading, preparation, etc.  For interns doing their field work during the semester, this means an average of 8 hours per week, though there will be weeks in which circumstances require more or less time.  If the intern and/or fieldwork supervisor find that the time commitment persists for more than a few weeks at a significantly lower or higher level, they should adjust responsibilities accordingly and inform the departmental internship coordinator.
  2. Interactive relationship.  The key to a good internship experience is the relationship between the student and the fieldwork supervisor.  Given the busy and complex nature of the organizational context for the fieldwork, it is reasonable that the intern sometimes will merely observe the supervisor performing certain professional functions (e.g., conducting a trial or giving a campaign speech).  It is also reasonable that the intern sometimes will be given a solitary task to perform (e.g., checking a legal citation or answering a constituent’s phone inquiry).  Both the intern and the supervisor, however, should make regular time for conversation, consultation, and feedback.
  3. Intellectually challenging.  Every organization and activity involves some “grunt” work, but such activity by the intern should be a modest part of the experience.  A significant part of the fieldwork should be intellectually challenging and should make the intern think critically, exercise judgment, and communicate effectively.  If possible, the fieldwork supervisor will provide some opportunity for the intern to become acquainted with the overall operations of the organizational setting.

Interns are expected to be conscientious in the performance of their duties and to abide by the rules and norms of the fieldwork supervisor and organization.  The intern is responsible primarily to the fieldwork supervisor for what the intern does in the program.

In addition, the intern is required to complete and submit logs, a journal, and a paper to the departmental internship coordinator.  To earn internship credit, the departmental internship coordinator must receive the following:

  1. A Log that identifies – on a week-by-week basis – the time commitments and projects in which the intern participated.  Log sheets should be completed as the fieldwork occurs and must be submitted to the departmental internship coordinator every two weeks over the course of the internship.
  2. A Journal that contains the intern’s reflections on the experience, relating it to broader issues of government, politics, policy, law, etc. The journal must be submitted to the departmental internship coordinator at least twice:  halfway through the internship and before the end of final exams.  Interns are encouraged to meet or communicate with the internship coordinator as ideas, questions, and/or problems arise.  Note the difference between a log, which merely lists what the intern did, and a journal, which is reflective and analytical.
  3. A Paper (≈ 1250-1500 words) in which the intern selects and analyzes a particular event or issue that helped illuminate a central aspect of the fieldwork experience or concept learned through the internship.
  4. An Evaluation completed by the fieldwork supervisor and returned directly to the internship coordinator.

The departmental internship coordinator may assign additional work and may set more specific deadlines for the submission of written material.

Additional Requirements

  • All internships must be approved in advance.  Summer/interim internships must be approved in advance by submitting the internship registration form.  The Summer Internship Form may be completed and submitted online. Adviser and department/instructor approvals can be emailed separately to registrar@lafayette.edu.
  • Students are required to pay a tuition fee for participating in an internship during the summer or interim session.  Please contact the Registrar’s Office to determine the tuition fee.
  • All internships with compensation and/or not affiliated with a department must be taken through the College-wide internship program (INT 200).  INT 200 credit is recorded on the transcript, but may not be used to fulfill the minimum course requirement for graduation. INT 200 is supervised by a faculty member under the direction of the Registrar.
  • Students are eligible to register for one internship course.  Students earning a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or above may petition to take a second internship for credit.  First-year students and sophomores are not eligible for participation in an internship program.

To determine if you are eligible to Earn Government and Law Credit for an internship, contact:

Professor Katalin Fabian
Departmental Internship Coordinator
fabiank@lafayette.ed
(610) 330-5392