Administrative Internship PLSC 444

Internships link academic learning to meaningful work experience. Completion of an internship is an excellent way to learn new skills, and refine your personal and professional interests. Establishing contacts in your field and gaining real-world experience for your resume will help you toward future career goals. Internships are often found in public or private agencies, political campaigns or law offices. We will also consider any internship ideas that you bring to us. All internships completed for Political Science credit must be approved by the Internship Coordinator.

Administrative Internship Brochure

Qualifications of Student Interns

  • Completion of two courses in appropriate field in discipline
  • Acceptability to the agency
Group of people gathered around a large table

Internship Details


Initial contact with the Intern Coordinator should be one quarter in advance of registration if the student is interested in a local internship. For state and federal internships, contact with the Intern Coordinator should be two quarters in advance. You will need permission to register for PLSC 444.

Credit may be divided over two quarters when the placement requires a commitment of more than ten weeks. Only 10 credits of internship may be counted toward the Political Science major; up to 5 internship credits count toward the minor but will not count toward the required 10 credits of upper division courses. Excess credits will be counted as general university credit, and there is a limit of 15 credits of PLSC 444 allowed at the university.

Academic Credits and Working Hours

One credit is given for three hours of internship worked. (Example: Five credits for approximately 15 hours per week, 10 credits for approximately 30 hours per week)

Potential Problems

  • Frequent absence or lack of contact with the internship supervisor
  • Lack of feedback relative to the quality of the intern's performance
  • Hostility from other employees who receive less attention from the supervisor or who do not understand the intern's responsibilities
  • Appearance-some agencies may have an unwritten dress code

If these or other problems develop, interns are to discuss the problem with their supervisor. If this does not result in correction of the problem, the Intern Coordinator should be contacted for further discussion of the matter.

Internship Timeline

2 Quarters Prior to Registration Initial contact with the Intern Coordinator for Federal Agency internships
1 Quarter Prior to Registration Initial contact with the Intern Coordinator for local internships
Registration Contact the Intern Coordinator for permission to register
2nd Week of Internship Submit work proposal (on-line)
3rd Week of Internship Submit reflection paper #1
5th Week of Internship Decide topic for research paper/report
6th Week of Internship Submit reflection paper #2
First day of finals week

Submit internship portfolio

Supervisor's Evaluation of Intern's Performance is due

Placement Information

The student placement information summary form is submitted to the Intern Coordinator during the first week of the Internship. This contains the following information:

  • Description of expected assignments or duties
  • Duration and working hours of the internship
  • Office address and phone number of the intern
  • Name, title, office address and phone number of the intern's supervisor

Submit your student placement information summary form using the on-line form on the department website. You will receive a confirmation response after submitting the form on the web. Print a copy of the confirmation page to include in your internship portfolio at the end of the quarter.

Please note that students are solely responsible for researching and evaluating the acceptability of any risks to their health, safety and well-being regarding their host site selection and chosen field experiences.

Reflection Papers

Interns will write three short papers reflecting on aspects of the internship experience. The first two statements address questions posed below. The final reflective statement will be based on a question or idea developed by the intern. Details include:

  • Reflective responses should be one to three pages in length.
  • Due on the third, sixth, and final week of the internship.
  • Submit reflection papers #1 and #2 as an e-mail or e-mail attachment to and type PLSC 444 Reflection in the subject line.
  • Print a copy of your e-mail and attachment to include in your internship portfolio.
  • Reflection #1 –"What surprises you most about the internship experience? How is it different than you expected based on what you have read or learned in the classroom?" (Due Week 3)
  • Reflection #2 "What is the most challenging aspect, positive or negative, of your internship placement?" (Due Week 6)
  • Reflection #3 – You create the question or idea for the final reflective response. (Due with final portfolio)

Internship Project/Paper

Depending upon the nature of the intern's assignment with the agency, a project report or paper is submitted at the end of the quarter. Project reports are submitted in those cases where the intern has been responsible for the preparation of an agency report, a copy of which can be submitted to the instructor as evidence of the intern's report preparation skills. In those cases where the intern's assignments do not lend themselves to the submission of a substantial project report, a paper is required. Length and scope of the paper is determined by the number of credits in the internship.

Papers are prepared in the format prescribed in the Department handout and in strict accord with the policy concerning plagiarism.

The approach, topic, format, and length of the internship project report or paper is to be discussed with the Intern Coordinator no later than the fifth week of the quarter.

Internship Evaluation

Supervisor's Evaluation of the Intern's Performance

An evaluation of the intern's performance is prepared by the intern's supervisor and is either submitted online, mailed directly to the Intern Coordinator, or is given to the intern by the supervisor for inclusion in the internship portfolio. Click here to find the Supervisor's Evaluation Form.

Intern's Evaluation of the Internship Experience

A brief evaluation of the internship experience is to be prepared by the intern and included as part of the internship portfolio in order to assist the instructor in considering whether the agency is appropriate for future placement of interns. This evaluation is treated as confidential by both the student and the instructor.

Internship Portfolio

An internship portfolio is due on the first day of finals week, unless another time is agreed to by the intern and the Intern Coordinator. The portfolio is an opportunity for you to bring together and show-case your internship experience. Although you may have submitted some of the required elements earlier in the quarter, you are required to include copies of the following:

  • Placement information
  • Three reflection papers
  • Project report or paper
  • Intern's evaluation of the internship experience
  • Samples of letters or other work produced during the internship
  • Other correspondence or articles the intern decides to include
  • Name and office address of the person writing the final intern evaluation

The internship portfolio is to be bound in one notebook or contained in one large envelope with the student's name and WWU ID number, the Intern Coordinator's name, the course prefix and number, and the academic quarter and year in which the student is registered for the internship indicated clearly on the cover or the outside.

Please confer with the Intern Coordinator if you need to use an alternative format for the internship portfolio.

Grading Policy

Part of the course grade will depend upon your careful adherence to these instructions. The final grade will be based upon the academic requirements described above and the agency supervisor's evaluation.

Skyla Sorensen in a polka dot dress and blue baseball cap sits in a tree-shaded stone nook in Italy

Internship Profile: Skyla Sorensen

To briefly summarize what I’m’s a State Department Internship for the United States Mission to the United Nations in the Public Affairs Office. 

The USUN manages the US relationship to Rome Based Agencies like the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

The Public Affairs office works with all the agencies, doing everything from coordinating press and media to planning events designed to promote US policy and agendas. 

Interns are responsible for managing social media, putting out daily news briefs, covering events, and pretty much anything else the office needs help with. Because the USUN is part of the Tri-Mission in Rome (it’s on the same campus as the US Embassy to the Vatican and to Italy), I also get to help out with the Vatican Embassy’s public affairs. 

 In short—it’s the coolest unpaid internship in the universe!

Skyla Sorensen
Internship: U.S. Department of State, Rome, Italy
Catherine Gelband in a white tank top

Internship Profile: Catherine Gelband

Interning at the Whatcom County Public Defender complimented, enriched, and extended my studies in Political Science. My internship and Western courses continuously informed one another. This simultaneous application of classroom knowledge and community-based experience created a holistic, symbiotic approach to my education in Political Science.

Having a specific interest in law, interning at the Public Defender gave me a sense of legal procedures and allocation of responsibility in real time. Interns are given the chance to complete investigative work directly with clients, witnesses, and others involved in cases and often follow a case from start to finish. The best part of the internship was the caliber of projects entrusted to interns and the accessibility and proximity to the work of the investigators and attorneys. It truly paints a picture of work in the field of criminal law.

Catherine Gelband
Internship: Whatcom County Public Defender