A well-rounded education in political science means more than just learning how your own country runs its affairs. To truly understand how governments function and interact with each other you’ll need to go overseas to experience the daily ins and outs of other political systems first hand. A political science internship abroad is the perfect way to expand your horizons and prepare yourself for your career.
Interning is a common method for people starting out in political science. While there are many opportunities to do this at home, heading to another country will impart a level of perspective that would be difficult to gain at home.
You’ll see that the challenges facing your country aren’t necessarily the same as the challenges elsewhere. The same is true for how other countries face these challenges. In an increasingly interconnected world, the type of global outlook achieved through an internship abroad can only help you be more successful once you start your career.
Internships in political science are dynamic and interesting as every day will present you with different challenges and opportunities. Some programs will include a significant amount of grassroots fieldwork. Others may have you working behind a desk as a member of a politician’s staff. You might end up working directly in the offices of a local government or with an NGO helping to conduct research and implement programs.
Many of the most coveted overseas internships in political science are working directly with a governmental department in your host country. Be it with the national government or on the local level, these placements will expose you to the daily ins and outs of how governments function far from home. Governmental placements might not always be available to foreigners and will require a working knowledge of the local language, but if you can get placed with one, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the functions of your host country’s political sphere.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
NGOs are typically non-profit organizations that operate throughout the world to implement a specific mission at the ground level. As such, they are frequently looking for volunteers and interns like you to help put their plans into action. Interning with an NGO will help you gain a level of insight that’s hard to find elsewhere.
Politics and government vary greatly from country to country. With each and every nation taking its own path, going overseas to get on the ground experience will provide incalculable insight into the global sphere of politics that you wouldn’t be able to find back home. Consider the following countries as great places to intern in political science abroad.
For centuries, the United Kingdom has been a major player in global politics. With strong and friendly relations with the United States, there are a number of programs in the UK that welcome interns from across the pond. Where better to experience parliamentary government in action that in the halls of the Palace of Westminster itself?
Colombia has one of the premier emerging economies in South America. An internship here will show you first-hand what it’s like to be on the front-lines of a country on the move. Whether you have an interest in environmental policy, trade and finance, public health, urban development policy, or working with marginalized communities, you’ll find many opportunities as part of your internship in Colombia.
Interning in South Africa will provide you with the kinds of experiences you just never would have been able to find at home. There are a number of NGOs looking for interns interested in political science to help perform invaluable fieldwork and research. You’ll help support local initiatives and participate in programs that will expose you to different aspects of the economic, social, and cultural, history of South Africa.
Taiwan has been striking out on its own path for decades. While interning in this East Asian nation, you’ll gain an understanding of how this country maintains its delicate and unique relationship with mainland China and the rest of the world. Some programs include immersive Mandarin lessons as part of the internship, giving you a competitive edge when you enter the job market.
There is a lot to consider when planning your internship in political science abroad. Keep the following information in mind to have a smooth and amazing experience.
How to Choose a Political Science Internship
With such a variety of internships available, it may be hard deciding what program to choose. Think about what kind of work interests you specifically. Also, consider why you want to intern overseas and what you want to get out of your international experience.
It’s always a good idea to contact someone in the program directly as they’ll be able to answer any specific questions and concerns you have. Also, see if you can speak to any current or previous interns as they’ll be able to give you a first-person account of the internships you’re considering.
Health & Safety
There are no special health or safety considerations for an internship in political science. Just be sure to check if there are any issues that are specific to the region you’re going to. The US State Department and Centers for Disease Control are good places to look.
Other Need to Know
As with any internship program, this is your opportunity to put your best foot forward. Remember that the people you work with will be the ones writing your references when you enter the workforce. Make it easy for them to write by always acting professionally and enthusiastically throughout your internship.
Like most internships, you’ll likely be doing a lot of grunt work. Being at the bottom of the bureaucratic hierarchy may not be glamorous, but it imparts an appreciation for how the actual work of government gets done.
Most political science internships last for two to six months. Many take place in the summer months allowing you to intern between school years. Longer ones are great for recent graduates seeking real-world experience and maybe even the opportunity to get a job as a direct result of the internship.