Internship Search Tips for Political Science Students

Political science majors pursue a wide variety of careers which is a testament to the degree’s versatility. This is good news but it also makes deciding what career avenue to pursue a little more challenging. Here are a few tips:

Understand why you are pursuing an internship.

An internship is an excellent way to see if a particular career is right for you. It is also a way enhance and develop professional skills. If you are curious about what types of skills are needed in the workforce, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has created Career Readiness Competencies. Learn more about these competencies and how your political science degree helps you develop these skills. O*Net can help you understand what types of skills are necessary for a particular career position.

Decide what type of experience you wish to gain based upon your interests and career aspirations.

If you need help narrowing your focus, the Career Center can help you through assessments and one-on-one counseling.

The following websites may also be helpful as you think about a career in political science:

American Political Science Association

What Can I Do With This Major – The University of Tennessee

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook

College of Charleston Department of Political Science

Decide where you want to pursue the internship and explore your options utilizing comprehensive resources.

If you are looking to obtain an internship in Charleston, contact your internship coordinator to discuss possibilities and where other students have interned before. Your internship coordinator can also direct you to local resources. CougarJobLink, a database maintained by the Career Center, also contains a list of organizations seeking interns. (Log into MyCharleston and select the Student tab to access CougarJobLink.)

If you are looking to obtain an internship outside of Charleston and are not familiar with that area, you may find the following tips helpful.

Utilize LinkedIn to search for and connect with College of Charleston alumni in your field. Develop a LinkedIn profile and conduct informational interviews with alumni. If you need assistance with LinkedIn, contact your internship coordinator or the Career Center to set up an appointment.

Learn more about what types of companies and organizations are available by researching Chamber of Commerce websites. You can find a city’s Chamber of Commerce site by conducting a web search.

Many political science students seek internships in Washington, D.C. An alumna who worked for years in D.C. helped us to create a list of helpful resources specific to that area.

No matter where you seek to pursue your internship, let your family, friends, faculty, and internship coordinator know of your interests. They may have a connection that can help you. Keep in mind that not all internships are advertised so don’t be afraid to contact an organization you are interested in to see if they sponsor interns.

Once potential opportunities are identified, be sure to update your cover letter and resume.

It is important to keep your resume updated, but you should always tailor your resume and cover letter to the internship you are applying for. The Career Center has created excellent guides to develop these materials.

Apply to the internship and be sure to follow up with the organization. 

Follow application instructions carefully and set a reminder for yourself to check on the status of your application. Be patient, show initiative, and keep a positive attitude during the process.

Keep track of the internships you applied to and save the internship announcements. Sometimes online postings are removed so you want to be sure you have the descriptions for interview preparation purposes.

Written by Kristin Wichmann

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