Wheaton College Color Logo

Internship Guidelines


  • Internships are offered only to majors. 
  • A student must have completed at least 16 hours of political science or international relations credit.
  • Internships must hold junior or senior status.


In order to receive credit, the following conditions must be met:

  • The internship must be supervised by a faculty member. Faculty serve as internship supervisor on a rotating basis. Check with the office to identify the current supervisor.
  • Appropriate course work must precede the internship.
  • Interns are required to attend a workshop to take place the week preceding graduation in May.
  • A student must be appropriately registered before internship work may count towards college credit. 
  • Students must complete the full 200 hours and turn in the required reflection papers, final assessment paper, and site-supervisor evaluation in order to receive course credit.


It is the student's responsibility to locate a meaningful internship opportunity. The internship should relate to a student's interests and to government, politics or public policy. Thus, a student planning on a legal career should seek an internship in a law firm, the state's attorney's office or a similar organization. A student interested in national politics may, on the other hand, seek first-hand experience in local, state or national politics--either by working on a campaign, in a state legislator's office or for a federal agency. An International Relations student must choose an internship with an international focus.  Internships with the State Department, an international development agency or a relief organization are all good examples of this.

Beginning the search early is strongly advised. This is especially the case with internships requiring a background investigation. The deadline for Department of State internships, for example, is normally six months prior to the desired beginning date. In seeking the internship, it is recommended that students apply to several offices and interview in at least two.

Internships during regular school terms will be limited to 3 per semester. These slots will be filled on a first-come, first- served basis. To secure a spot for the next semester, a student must have attended the May workshop and turn his/her completed internship application to the Politics/IR Secretary with all information complete and signatures present. Internship applications for the current semester may be submitted as long as slots have not been filled, however, no petitions will be accepted after the semester "Add" deadline.

Faculty Supervision

In order to receive credit for the internship, students must be supervised by one of the department's faculty. After internship arrangements have been made, the student should complete an internship application (available at the registrar's office). The application must include location, timing and duration of the internship. It is especially important to provide the name of the person who will supervise the student at the internship site. The student should then meet with the department chair to approve the internship and with the assigned faculty supervisor. (Both signatures are required on the internship application.) With those approvals/signatures, the student is then ready to register for the course through the regular registration process. The student should be sure he fully understands the faculty supervisor's requirements for reporting his progress during the internship process. The supervising faculty member will write a letter to the internship director, explaining that the internship will involve credit and that his/her evaluation of the student's work is an essential part of the grading process. Shortly after the student has begun the internship, he or she should ascertain whether or not the internship director has received a faculty letter and request for evaluation. It is the faculty member's responsibility to write; it is the student's responsibility to assure that this correspondence has been received and is responded to.

A student is expected to keep in touch with his faculty supervisor during the internship, by phone or e-mail.


A student's internship grade will be based on:

  • the quality of the 20 reflection papers submitted
  • the quality of the final assessment paper
  • the on-site internship supervisor's evaluation
  • It is the student's responsibility to submit reflection papers and the final assessment paper on time and to ensure that the site supervisor submits the internship evaluation form or letter. This should be done before the internship is finished.

Reflection Papers and Final Assessment Paper

Reflection Paper

The reflection paper is a record of your work and your observations and perceptions about the job. It is not merely a description of your activities or a diary of personal feelings, but rather an academic record in which you reflect on your participant-observer experiences.

Reflection Paper Suggestions:

  • Describe the nature and functions of your internship organization. What is the philosophical orientation?
  • Describe your work and the work of others in your office. Include samples of your writing or other relevant literature.
  • Draw an organizational chart, both formal and informal (after you have been on site for awhile).
  • Explain how communication is carried on within the organization.
  • What things seem to get top priority? Lower priority? Why? What are the things that seem to drive the organization?
  • How were people recruited into their positions? What is their background and training?

Final Assessment Paper

The final assessment paper, by contrast, is a summary analysis and evaluation of the overall work-study experience. The aim of the paper is to critically analyze your experience and to assess the areas of greatest learning to you. This paper should be roughly 6-8 pages in length.

Assessment Paper Suggestions:

  • Assess the goals and overall effectiveness of the organization.
  • What are the styles of leadership used in the organization? How do these affect working relationships? Do people seem happy in their work?
  • What conclusions can you draw from your experience that relate to the academic discipline of political science.
  • Did you come away with a new perspective on your field?
  • Discuss the relationship of your academic preparation (Wheaton courses) to your specific work situation.
  • What conflicts or problems did you encounter? How did you deal with them or solve them?
  • What impact has your work had on the agency/organization and on the people that it serves?
  • What would you do differently if you had this internship to do again?
  • How has the experience affected your future plans?
  • How did your Christianity relate to the internship experience?