Internships

Internships in our department provide students with the ability to: 1.) connect their political science education with practical, real-world experiences, 2.) enhance their career and transferable skills, and 3.) make vital professional connections to employment while working in local, state or federal government agencies, political parties and campaigns, interest groups or advocacy organizations, the media, nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations and more. The goal is to build resumes while earning degrees.

Every Fall and Spring semester, our department offers four cohort internship classes:

  • POLS430: Internship I
  • POLS511: Internship II
  • POLS510: Louisville Metro Internship
  • POLS512: Frankfort Internship

Students can enroll in the Internship I and II classesto take advantage of any pre-arranged internship that meets the educational criteria and receives approval from the Director of the Internship Program. Internship listings can be accessed via the department’s website and/or the University Career Center.

Both POLS510 and POLS512 allows students to join a cohort class that provides personalized placements in Louisville Metro Government with local officials each Fall semester or in the Kentucky General Assembly with state officials in Frankfort each Spring semester.

For details about the Louisville Metro Internship, please contact Dr. Sherri Wallace.

For details about the Frankfort Internship, please contact Dr. Jason Gainous.

For eligibility and other pertinent information, please see “Internship Requirements.”


Purpose of Internships

The National Society of Experiential Education describes internships as carefully monitored work or service experiences in which students pursue clearly identified educational goals and reflect actively on what they are learning. The purpose is to promote critical thinking, skill development, and personal and professional growth. Unlike jobs, which primarily involve work in exchange for pay, internships involve work in exchange for training. Some internships provide monetary compensation; however, many do not. Compensation more often comes in the form of academic credit.

Students can enroll in (paid or unpaid) internships and earn up to six (6) elective credit hours toward their graduation requirements, if their internships meet the criteria for a sustained experience at a work site with structured, supervised academic activities.


Value of Internships (The “What’s in it for me?” Question)

Internships provide a variety of career-building benefits, including the opportunity to:

  1. Bridge the gap between classroom learning and the real world.
  2. Gain practical experience in a professional environment.
  3. Acquire knowledge and understanding of government structures and processes.
  4. Experience the activities and functions of how government delivers services.
  5. Achieve personal growth and build self-confidence by meeting new challenges.
  6. Build vital professional networks in various fields for potential, future employment.
  7. Foster professional growth working in the community through collaboration and partnerships. 
  8. Develop greater appreciation for social responsibility and democratic governance.
  9. Improve your chances of finding employment after graduation. Many organizations only hire persons full-time if they have had practicum experience in their field.

Career Resources

The University Career Center is an excellent one-stop designed to “enhance the career development of all students and alumni through intentional resources and programming designed to prepare everyone to make the transition from college to career” (Taken verbatim from https://louisville.edu/career/career-resources).  The University Career Center maintains current listings of internships, visit at: https://louisville.edu/career/jobs-internships. Handshake also posts internship opportunities on their website. Many of these positions are offered by work sites that have sponsored interns from the University of Louisville in the past and are familiar with the University's academic programs. For more information on these opportunities, contact or visit the University Career Center located in the Houchens Building, and open Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM  to 5:00 PM.

The American Political Science Association (APSA) also has links to many prominent national and international internship opportunities, visit at: https://www.apsanet.org/RESOURCES/For-Students/Internship-Resources

ALL students should take advantage of these resources while you can. 


Internship Testimonials

"My senior year Frankfort internship was everything I thought it would be and led to opportunities that I never could have imagined. As an intern I was able to pull back the curtain on Kentucky politics and in doing so I gained immeasurable experience and insight on how Kentucky operates. It was hard work and also fun, from scouting support for legislation to enjoying FREE legislative lunches (don’t miss out on this - it’s not just free food guys - it’s also a great opportunity to network and watch lobbying in action). My time in Frankfort also brought me into contact with Representatives that I continue to speak with. When I graduated and began looking for my career path, multiple Representatives offered me paid opportunities in the State Capital with personal references."
- Tialisha Lumpkin (Frankfort Intern, Spring 2018)

"One of the most important aspects of the internship, in my opinion, is the introduction of college students to an extremely professional work environment. Students must monitor their own behavior to ensure that they are providing the best service to their office and ultimately the commonwealth. I will forever be thankful to the Frankfort internship for showing me how I will be expected to behave in my future career."
- Kylie Nethers (Frankfort Intern, Spring 2018)