Institute of Politics Internship and Seminar

Gain Political Experience Working with an Elected Official

This interdisciplinary internship program is designed to provide students with an exciting opportunity to work with a local, state, or federal elected official who makes policy decisions for the Pittsburgh region. The accompanying weekly seminar, taught by experienced government affairs professionals, teaches students about the historical, economic, and social background of Western Pennsylvania, so students can consider the various factors that influence decision makers. 

The Elsie Hillman Civic Forum partners with the Political Science Department and the College of General Studies to offer this 4-credit, letter-graded experience.

When is the program offered?

Offered in both the fall and spring terms, each term has its own application deadline noted below.

Benefits

  • Earn four credits from the Political Science or Public Service departments (PS 1910/PUBSRV 1910)
  • Gain firsthand experience in an elected official's office and deepen your understanding of the political, economic, and social issues affecting the Western PA region
  • Connect with local, state, and federal elected officials and the communities they serve
  • Prepare to pursue public service, effectively engage with communities, and become an active citizen 

Eligibility 

  • Any undergraduate student pursuing any major
  • Preference is given to juniors and seniors 

Program Commitments

  • Nine hours per week at elected official’s office for one semester
  • Weekly two-hour seminar, Thursdays 4:00 - 5:50 p.m.

Apply

Students apply online and participation is awarded on a competitive basis. 

  • Spring Term Application Due Date: November 1
  • Fall Term Application Due Date: March 1 

Application Requirements

  • Resume
  • Unofficial transcript
  • Personal statement - maximum one-page, single-spaced essay
    • Why would you like to participate in this program?
    • What skills would you contribute to your placement should you be selected for the program? 
    • What skills do you hope to gain from this program? 
    • What are your plans post-graduation?

Selection Process

Participation is based on the application and finalists will have a face-to-face interview with the program's instructors. The program typically has about 18 available positions each semester.

What will I be doing if I am selected for this internship program?

The students will work closely with the official’s office to respond to constituent inquiries, coordinate events, prepare writing assignments, attend meetings with the elected official, and assist with general day to day office needs. Students will also convene once a week to analyze the public service process in a classroom seminar through the use of creative teaching techniques such as community bus tours, journaling, and role playing as members of a legislative committee.