Internships are extremely popular -- 9 of 10 college students complete at least one in their careers. However, the process of finding, applying, selecting and participating an internship might be difficult to understand the first time around.
Internships are basically an opportunity to go somewhere and work, generally without compensation (although you can sometimes receive sponsorship from the OCC and CES). In its ideal, the monetary gain passed up by doing an internship is offset by other benefits, principally the professional connections you build and the opportunity to try out a career for a limited amount of time without any commitment.
Most internships aim to recruit college students, and thus take place over the summer.
- Be wary of emails from OCC - they often forward advertisements without doing a background check. Do some research for hidden costs/disclaimers before thinking about applying.
- Apply early, apply often - all you need is one place to say 'yes' and you're good. There are tons of opportunities to apply to, but sometimes the best internships are the ones you make for yourself.
- Don't be afraid to ask - everyone loves unpaid help (as long as you don't abuse the privilege like this Amherst student).
- If you can't afford to work without pay for a summer, don't let that stop you from seeking an internship at a nonprofit or in entertainment. You can apply for one of the OCC alumni internship grants (check out Fellowships and other cool opportunities). While you're there, check out the write-ups by students of their internship for persuasion or dissuasion.
Many private boarding schools in New England have summer schools, and take on teaching interns for the summer to teach a wide range of subjects, coach a variety of sports, and live in the dorm with students. Some examples:
- Phillips Exeter Academy
- Hyejin Rho '07 was an intern in summer 2006
- Phillips Academy Andover
- Northfield Mount Hermon School
- St. Paul's School
- Taft School
- Choate Rosemary Hall
- Hotchkiss School
- Miss Porter's School
Nearly every paper offers an internship - just plug in the title and the word 'internship' into Google to find the page. However, the more prestigious or big the paper, the more selective the internship. At newspapers such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you compete against students in J-school and need to apply in November. Those newspapers pay a fairly competitive internship salary, but the majority of papers expect you to work for free, especially if it's your first summer as a reporter. At less prestigious papers you will be competing against students enrolled in undergraduate journalism programs. They will have a portfolio of clips, and you will need one, too.
Many American embassies and consulates around the world welcome (unpaid) interns every summer. Though jobs vary widely by post, interns often find themselves on the forefront of American diplomacy. From the tiny, 6-person embassy in Brunei to America's largest embassy, Cairo, spending the summer abroad can be a rewarding, eye-opening and enriching experience for upperclass students and graduating seniors.
One of the big, powerhouse think tanks for foreign policy. Covers every corner of the globe.
A medium-sized think tank that deals with Latin American relations through specific issues such as human rights and trade.
A tiny think tank in Washington run that does Latin American policy (see the main page for a good sampling). A great opportunity to jump in and get involved with the day-to-day world of policy analysis.
- Pros: The entire staff is exactly one person, so the interns run the place, writing all the articles, attending all of the conferences, editing and publishing a magazine. It's pretty easy to get an internship - Alan Cordova got one having only taken Intro to IR.
- Cons: That one person is quite a personality, and if you don't like his politics (somewhere in between Chavez and Castro), it is sometimes difficult to get things distributed (he approves all articles). Also, COHA is not exactly the go-to place for Washington power brokers, though if you were at those places, your work would be much less interesting.
Winter Study Internships
Winter study is a great time to get an internship for credit. Some that have been offered in recent years:
A field placement at Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth in Canaan, New York. Berkshire Farm Center is a residential treatment facility for troubled, at-risk adolescent boys who have been remanded to the Farm by the Family Court. These youths come primarily from lower socio-economic strata, are very ethnically diverse, and hail from both urban and rural areas throughout New York State. The problems that they bring to Berkshire Farm are multiple. These include: the psychological scars of dysfunctional families, including those of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; chemical dependency; juvenile delinquency; inability to function in school settings; and various other issues. Residential treatment is a multi-modal approach that includes anger-replacement training, social skills training, and behavioral modification.
Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors who are interested in working in public schools or charter schools in New York City. Participants will be expected to pursue a full day's program of observing, teaching, tutoring and mentoring in their choice of more than 20 different school situations in NYC from elementary through high school. Each of the participating schools will have a resident supervisor who will meet with the January interns to arrange individual schedules and to provide mentoring during the month.
Apprenticeships are arranged in two distinct ways: some students live on campus and are matched with a local practitioner, while others make independent arrangements to shadow a distant professional. The expectation is that each student will observe some aspect of medicine for the better part of the day, five days per week. In recent years, students have shadowed physicians, veterinarians, dentists, nurses, and public health experts.
Teaching Internship at Mount Greylock Regional High School
Students are paired with a teacher at MGRHS in a subject of their interest (math, English, art, etc.) in a grade of interest (seventh through 12th) and assist students and teacher. Students meet weekly as a group with a mentor teacher and keep a journal. They also run classes on their own as the month progresses.
Programs to be wary of
A few companies charge money to place you in an internship. Be aware that you can get an internship available for free with a little determination and timeliness. For example, the Institute on Political Journalism places you with organizations that offer their own (free) internship programs.
Nice title, flashy web site, good marketing pitch, sounds like a winner, right? Wrong. For $6000 - $9000 you get a "guaranteed internship" in NYC, Chicago, LA, or London. Suspicious that they don't list the cost anywhere on their own web site...
Don't let the .org fool you. While it's not a complete scam - you do attend Georgetown University classes for much of the time - it does charge for things (namely, internship placements) that shouldn't cost anything.
Costly - again, you're getting something you don't have to pay for.
Can be heaven or hell, depending on your ability to handle politics 24x7. While it can be intimidating (and the humidity oppressive), you can't beat playing frisbee on the National Mall or being able to stroll past the White House on your way to work.