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Steps for Getting an Internship

  1. Contact the agency/office that you are interested in to set up an interview. Identify yourself as a Political Science major (or student) at CSUSM. Intern sponsors only knowwhat you tell them about yourself. It is important to express your qualifications in themost positive, albeit realistic, light.
  2. Remember, first impressions are important. Have a letter of introduction that includesthe following:
    1. A brief statement of interest in working in their office with some background rationale if possible. (The rationale could include the connection between theinternship setting and your career plans, your interest in the issues handled by the office, your unique skills which could be put to use, etc.).
    2. A specific set of dates outlining the duration of the internship and the time commitment within that set of dates. 
    3. A brief statement of one’s qualifications that highlight key elements of your formal résumé. Specific examples of one’s abilities and skills are important. Since words are the currency of politics, many offices request a writing sample. It is appropriate to include this in the initial package.
    4. A request for further guidance as to what other information the sponsor needsto make a decision.
  3. A formal résumé is the traditional business method for presenting oneself. Although the résumé may be prepared for mass distribution, it is best when it is tailored to the specific application at hand. The more you know about the needs of a particular office,the more you can highlight what you have to offer. For a college student with limited work experience, the résumé is some what different than for a person in the working world. Target your résumé to a particular position, highlight the relevant experiences and skills for that job. The résumé should include:
    • Biographical and contact information, e.g., current address, telephone number, email, etc.
    • An outline of specific skills, e.g. letter writing, research, statistics, compute rwork, public polling, computer skills, etc.
    • Previous employment
    • Education record
    • Academic experiences that indicate skills and the ability to work independently
    • References (choose references from those who are most likely to tell something about your ability to do the job and from those who are likely to carry some weight with the potential sponsor)
    • Career plan
    • Make sure the cover letter and résumé are error free and professional. Don’t rely solely on your spell checker or your own eyes. Have someone else proofread for you.
  4. Arrange an interview: Many internships require either an in-person or phone interview. Prepare for the interview by finding out as much as possible about the interviewer and their office operation and anticipating their questions, i.e., tell me about yourself, why do you want to work here, what skills would you bring to the job, what are you most important strengths/weaknesses. Also, have some questions of your own, i.e.,what kinds of assignments can I expect to get, what did your last (current) intern do, what do you expect of interns, etc. Questions not only allow you to gather important information, but also indicate your interest. At a minimum, ask the timetable for making a decision. Immediately send a follow-up thank you letter to the interviewer. This serves as a subtle reminder that they need to take action and signals to the interviewer your professionalism and commitment to following through.
    • Be flexible about your work schedules and assignments. 
    • Be specific about your interests.
    • Be realistic about possible placements.
  5. Once you land an internship, fill out the appropriate documents in the Internship database.
  6. Begin working toward fulfilling your hours and completing career readiness assignments that will be turned in to Dr. Chavez Metoyer at the end of your experience.

View a detailed summary of the Internship Process