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Internships offer a great way for students to learn about Politics outside of the classroom.  Des Moines offers plentiful internship opportunities and Drake Politics students have extensive internship choices.  Whether working for the Iowa legislature or hitting the campaign trail, advocating for policy change or welcoming foreign delegations to Iowa, working with refugee populations or conducting archival research, internships offer students professional experience and help build relationships for future careers.  And internships can be as helpful in figuring out what professional career paths you don’t want to pursue as sorting through the multitude of professional careers you may want to pursue after graduation.  At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a list of some of the places our majors have had internships in the past; you can also consult current internships listed on Drake’s Handshake website. 

Can I get academic credit for an internship?
Yes.  Students can get up to 6 credits for internships during their time at Drake.  Receiving academic credit requires supplementing your internship experience with directed reading and writing assignments or reports under the supervision of a faculty member.  Generally, an internship experience for 3 hours of academic credit will require that you work at least 10 hours per week.  To receive credit, you must be a sophomore, junior, or senior who has completed 15 credit hours of POLS classes and maintained a 3.0 GPA in all POLS classes.  

How do I get academic credit for an internship?
To start the process, you will want to identify a faculty member who will supervise your internship credits, someone with expertise or research and teaching interests that align with the internship placement.  Remember that all professors can exercise discretion in determining whether they will supervise an internship.  This ensures that they have adequate time to work with you throughout the semester.  

  • In conversation with that faculty member, you will need to develop a list of reading and writing assignments that will be completed as a part of the internship class.  
  • Once you have established the learning goals and assignments for your academic experience, you will need to complete the Arts and Sciences request form to officially sign up for the internship.  This form will need approval from the faculty member supervising your internship, your academic advisor, and the department chair.  
  • Once those permissions have been given and the request has been processed, the credits will appear on your DUSIS schedule as POLS 193 (for the Fall semester) or POLS 194 (for the Spring semester).  
  • If you are doing a summer internship, you will want to speak with the faculty member supervising your internship credit to discuss the process for receiving credit during the summer.  

Should I get credit for my internship?
Internships are valuable whether you receive academic credit or not.  The Political Science department allows students to receive up to 6 credits for internships during their time at Drake.  Since many students will complete more than 2 internships, you may determine that the extra work required to receive academic credit is something that you’re not interested in pursuing, but that doesn’t mean that the internship isn’t valuable — it will still be an important step in developing professional experience and building your professional reputation.   

Semester in Washington Internship programs
Drake is affiliated with two semester- (or summer-) long internship programs.  In each case, students spend a semester or summer living and working in Washington, D.C. while doing an internship and taking classes.  Drake’s affiliation includes tuition- and credit-exchange agreements, and scholarships are available through the program.  For more information on these programs, visit their websites and talk to our Drake liaisons.

The Washington Center (campus liaisons: Rachel Paine Caufield and Chrystal Stanley)

The Washington Semester at American University (campus liaison:  Rachel Paine Caufield)

Other organizations, including The Fund For American Studies and many universities, offer semester-long experiences in Washington, but Drake does not have a similar affiliation and students will be required to negotiate credit- and tuition-exchange on their own.  

On-Campus Internship Opportunities
Some Drake-affiliated organizations have on-campus opportunities for students which may offer a chance to earn credit or an hourly wage.  

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement
Student employees at The Harkin Institute work on a variety of institutional projects, and students can bring/develop a range of interests and skills including communications, policy research, graphic design, and data analysis.  The Institute’s primary policy research areas are disability policy, labor and employment, health and wellness, and retirement security.

Vote Smart
Student interns at Vote Smart are vital members of the team compiling reliable, nonpartisan, factual information about candidates and elected officials across the country.  Students are assigned to work on one of four teams: profiles, key votes, speeches, or campaign finance.  Vote Smart also seeks interns working in communications or marketing.  The Vote Smart Internship allows students to receive up to 3 credits for a semester-long internship, through an established class (INTD 050).  

Past internships for students in the Department of Political Science:

This is not a complete list, but can serve to inspire your imagination about all of the various professional experiences that are available. Most notably, individual campaign organizations are specific to each cycle and are not listed here.  

In Washington, D.C.:
The White House
U.S. Senate
U.S. House
EMILY’s List
ABC News
The Smithsonian Institution
Bread for the World
Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Locust Street Consulting
Venn Strategies
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
The Atlantic
Department of Homeland Security

In Des Moines:
The Iowa Legislature (find out more about clerking in the Iowa legislature)
The World Food Prize
Office of the Iowa Lieutenant Governor
The Des Moines Partnership
State Public Policy Group
Iowa International Center
One Iowa
Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority
Iowa Environmental Council
Young Women’s Resource Center
Iowa Pork Producers
City of West Des Moines
Groundswell Strategies
Americans for Prosperity
Lutheran Services of Iowa
Republican Party of Iowa
Iowa Democratic Party
Iowa Legislative Services Agency
The Des Moines Register
Polk Country Attorney’s Office

International internships


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