Institute of Politics Internship and Seminar

photo of Elsie Hillman Civic Forum Internship and Seminar group

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.

James G. Fulton Award  

Students who are accepted into the Internship & Seminar course will have an opportunity to apply for the James G. Fulton Political Internship Fund. These scholarships will support eight students who are from Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Westmoreland, Butler, and/or Washington counties. Preference is given to students from Allegheny County. 

This award honors the history of James G. Fulton and provides local students at the University of Pittsburgh's Oakland Campus with high-quality experiential learning experiences within urban, suburban, and rural political contexts located within the district offices of federal, state, or local elected officials. 

When is the program offered?

Offered in both the fall and spring terms.  

Award

We are offering scholarships to four students per term (eight students per year) of approximately $2,000 to cover transportation to district offices located further than 10 miles away and the remaining funds used at the student's discretion.

This will help assure that the University's students are offered politically and geographically diverse regional opportunities, also catalyzing a student-based classroom dialogue that includes urban, suburban, and rural political perspectives.

Eligibility for the Fulton Award

  • Undergraduate students pursuing any major with previous coursework in political science
  • Preference is given to juniors and seniors
  • Minimum grade point average of 2.75
  • Preference is given to students from southwestern Pennsylvania
  • Preference is given to students who demonstrate a commitment to understanding and productively engage in political discourse involving multiple perspectives across the political continuum  

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 

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

  • Applications will open in Spring 2023 for the Fall 2023 student placements.

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.

Photo of the IOP Internship and Seminar

Past IOP Elected Official Placements