Political Science Internships and Careers
Political Science Internships
LOOKING FOR AN INTERNSHIP in Political Science? This link connects you to a growing database of the offices where PSC Department students have been interns, for prospective interns to use in locating a good placement, or to be able to ask past students for feedback about different placements.
QUESTIONS? Or READY TO SIGN UP? The Directors of the Political Science Department Internship Program are:Dr. John Kennedy
, 610-436-2701; andDr. Linda Stevenson
Internships in Political Science - or any discipline for that matter - are increasingly important for students to gain practical experience in a related professional field. Internships can allow you to "test-drive" a career path that interests you most - and/or allow you to figure out paths that are not as good a fit for you as you might have thought. This can help you make better decisions if you want to make a major investment in your post-graduate education, such as attending law school or a graduate program. Furthermore, the experience can help you build professional and personal contacts in your field, and develop more specialized skills employers are seeking, potentially letting you get your foot in the door with major companies or influential organizations. And ultimately, the basic fact is that more and more employers are hiring their interns as full-time employees after graduation.
At West Chester University, the Political Science Department has a long tradition of placing interns in local law and non-profit offices, as well as with state legislators. More recently, students are also obtaining placements in Philadelphia, in Washington D.C. and internationally.
The Department is part of several ongoing semester-long Internship and Study programs in Harrisburg and Washington D.C.
The Harrisburg Internship Semester (THIS) program is competitive and offered to one exceptional WCU student each Fall or Spring semester. The program takes place in Harrisburg, with other students from each of the 14 PASSHE colleges and universities. All students participate in a seminar, which includes meetings with many important legislators, the Governor, judicial officials, agency representatives, among other from the Pennsylvania state government. Each student selects a research topic and writes a substantial research paper, often incorporating up-to-the-minute information from the seminar speakers on the issue as it unfolds. And of course, each student is placed with a state government office, where they will serve as an intern for 4 months.
The applications for THIS are announced at the beginning of each academic year, with the deadline in early October.
For more information on the THIS program, see: www.passhe.edu
The Washington Center (TWC) is West Chester's partner institution for students interested in national and international-level politics placements in Washington D.C. in the Fall and Spring semesters, as well as for Summer internships, and January short-term programs. This program features a seminar with many different political leaders, a research paper and placement in an internship. TWC also has living facilities for students in the city. Other programs offered by TWC which are elaborated further on their website include: http://www.twc.edu/
- Presidential Election Year Republican and Democratic National Convention programs
- In January, a two-week "Camp David" Simulation, to learn about issues in the Middle East
Locally, the WCU Political Science Department has an ongoing internship with the Mayor of the Borough of West Chester, and with the Chester County Commissioners' offices. Each semester the PSC Department seeks applications for the Mayoral Internship. For more information please contact Rachelle Sellers, Assistant to the Mayor and Chief of Police at email@example.com
Political Science Careers
The discipline of political science provides students with an excellent foundation for a broad and exciting range of jobs or career paths. The ability to adapt to the conditions of and meet the expectations of a given job makes political science majors a valuable asset for employers. This is particularly important in an age when college graduates are projected to experience at least six job changes in their working lifetimes.
A major or minor in political science grounds students in the kinds of abilities that prospective employers seek in potential employees. These include communication, analytical and reasoning, problem-solving, interpersonal, organizational, and computing skills.
A great source of career information and future potential earnings for Political Science Majors can be found at the American Political Science Association's career link: http://www.apsanet.org/content_6457.cfm
The West Chester University career network is a great resource for your career search!
Below are some categories of careers for which graduates of the political science program are well-suited.
ADVOCACY: This refers to entities that seek to promote particular viewpoints and affect certain public policy outcomes. Examples include interest groups, membership associations, lobbyists and public relations firms. These organizations operate in both the nation's capitol as well as the various state capitols.
BUSINESS: This concerns, first, work with companies engaged in international business as well as with the governmental affairs departments of domestically-focused companies. Secondly, and just as importantly, it includes virtually every type of private-sector company and almost every aspect of their operations (regardless of whether or not it is directly related to political science). It is a myth that companies hire only business majors. Most private businesses will consider political science majors to fill openings if those prospective employees demonstrate the skills needed to succeed on the job.
GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Here, one route is with the federal government, with either one of the official branches (Executive, Legislative, or Judicial) or a government department or agency. Work is available either in Washington D.C. or outside the capitol (both domestically and abroad). In fact, most federal government employees actually work outside of Washington D.C. Another route is with a state or local government. Again, this could be with either the official decisionmakers or a government department or agency. In recent years the growth of employment at the state and local levels has outpaced that of the federal level. Even "small" local governments employ some staff in this day and age.
JOURNALISM: Opportunities can be found in both the traditional print and broadcast mediums; these include both reporting and support roles. The Internet continues to impact the way news is distributed, and this certainly creates additional avenues into the news business. The industry particularly seeks individuals who understand the context in which events are unfolding, within the political system specifically as well as the larger American society.
LAW: There are many types of legal assistant and paralegal jobs for which a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational qualification. Indeed, these represent a rapidly growing segment of law-related careers.
MILITARY: Political science majors are eligible for admission into the armed services. The options range from entrance as a private to commissioning as an officer. As a college graduate, one is eligible to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) and enter the military directly as an officer (no ROTC or other training required). Indeed, after several years of downsizing, the military has stepped up recruitment efforts in the past few years. Additionally, many civilian status jobs are available with the military.
POLITICAL: These pursuits include polling and survey work. This is done as either a staff member for various individuals and organizations or while under the employ of a firm specializing in this kind of work. Besides traditional political topics, this kind of work offers opportunities to focus on any number of nonpolitical matters. Another area is campaign management, whether it be working directly for an individual candidate or for a campaign management firm. Campaign management covers not only the election of individuals to office but also projects involving referenda and initiatives as well as political parties. This area also includes working directly for a political party to help it meet its mission. Both major parties have a headquarters in Washington D.C. and in most state capitols. Additionally, a party headquarters can be found in certain localities.
TEACHING: This could be at the elementary, middle school or high school level. Public school teaching usually requires state certification. For many private schools, the bachelor's degree alone is a sufficient qualification. Additionally, there are programs that pay down student loans if an individual agrees to teach in certain areas of the country.
Please be advised that this list is intended only to begin to orient students to career opportunities with a political science degree. There are literally hundreds of specific types of jobs within the above categories. To explore any of these opportunities in further detail (or ones not listed here) please consult the political science faculty as well as the career resources the department has available.
For more about a specific career, visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) at http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Political Science Alumni
The Department of Political Science has an extensive network of alumni placed in a diverse array of professional fields as well as locations. Our students work in government, politics, law (public and private), advocacy, non-profits, business/banking, the military, international affairs, and teaching (at the middle/high school, community college, and university level). Our students are successful and leaders in their respective fields and professions. We are also ongoing developing our alumni network via social networking - in particular Linked In and Facebook - join via the main web page!
Message from two of our alums
Michelle Forsell, '99; JD Villanova, 2003
"West Chester's Political Science Department offers a wide array of subject matter. This includes courses in international relations, United States politics, racial/ethnic politics, political philosophy, public opinion, and research methodology. The core of the department familiarizes students with every aspect of politics.
Once the core is completed, students have the opportunity to focus on International Relations, Public Management, or to continue with a general concentration. Whichever concentration is chosen, the experience is invaluable. Professors in this department are all very knowledgeable. Furthermore, each one has a different specialty that adds to the diversity of the learning experience.
However, there are a lot of opportunities in this department for students. The Political Science Club is an outlet for students to discuss politics as well as a place for special speakers to come and discuss a variety of issues with students. Also, there is the Pre-law Society for anyone interested in law. This organization serves as guidance for anyone contemplating law school. Special speakers include lawyers, law school students, and others knowledgeable in the law.
Another opportunity available to students is to conduct hands-on research using research methods learned in the classroom by working in the department's Research Center. This allows students to see concretely how relevant classroom material is to real life. Also, it allows students to perfect their skills before going out in the workplace. In this sense, this department offers much more than classroom instruction."
Dan Blomquist, 2008 ; MA University of Pittsburgh, International Security Studies and Counter-Terrorism
"If you're looking for dynamic course offerings, academically diverse faculty, and an opportunity to build a solid foundation in international political interactions or domestic political systems, the Political Science Department at West Chester University is a perfect fit for you. The diverse academic background of the faculty allows the department to offer a plethora of courses focused on all geographic corners of the world as well as the key domestic policy debates and institutional battles of Washington D.C. or Harrisburg, PA. Whether you are interested in the politics of Africa, the geo-political consequences of oil dependency, or the future of health care policy or urban economic development, the department offers courses to fulfill your curiosities and further your understanding. If you are unsure of your specific interests, the professors in the department consistently demonstrate their commitment to helping students focus on areas that will be beneficial and interesting to students' academic and professional careers.
After receiving my B.A. in Political Science: International Relations, I found myself well prepared and well positioned to excel at the graduate level. As a testament to the professional preparation that I received from Political Science professors at WCU, I am now attending the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School for Public and International Affairs, pursuing a Master's Degree in Security and Intelligence Studies. Now knowing what to expect at such a prestigious program, I soon discovered that the foundation I received at WCU put me in a position to excel at the next level. The successes I have achieved at the graduate level can be attributed, in large part, to the outstanding professionalism, knowledge, and support of the faculty and staff at WCU's Political Science Department."