Free resource: “Political Science Internships: Towards Best Practices”

I wanted to re-share a resource that may be useful to those who are offering, arranging, and participating in internship programs in politics, public policy, international relations, and related fields. The book is Renée B. Van Vechten, Bobbi Gentry, and John C. Berg, Political Science Internships: Towards Best Practices (2021), published by the American Political Science Association (APSA).

The good news is that this super helpful resource is available for free from the APSA website (link here). Here’s a general description of the book:

Political Science Internships: Towards Best Practices builds on a robust body of evidence that demonstrates the integrative power of internships to help undergraduate students learn by doing. Targeting faculty, instructors, and administrators who deliver political science curricula, this book examines the state of internships in the discipline, scrutinizing different types of internship programs, their vital components, and the roles of key stakeholders: faculty mentors and instructors, site supervisors, and students.

I contributed a chapter, “Major Legal Considerations Pertaining to Internships” (link here). Here’s a brief description:

The burgeoning intern economy developed largely in the absence of federal guidelines or clarifying legal precedents until recently, creating significant ambiguity around interns’ rights, internship providers’ responsibilities, and institutions’ potential liabilities. During the past decade, litigation has helped clarify the relationship among students, their university or college, and their internship providers under current employment and education laws. This chapter surveys the major legal developments concerning internships, including compensation, harassment, and discrimination issues, with the core question being whether an internship is treated as an employment relationship under the law.

If you read my chapter, you’ll see that I am calling upon internship providers to compensate their interns even if they are not required to under the current, inadequate state of the law. Paying interns helps to ensure wider equality of opportunity, no small priority for internships that can eventually lead to positions of power and influence in public life.

There has been at least one welcomed, concrete change by an important federal government internship provider since the book appeared. Under the Biden Administration, the White House has turned its long-time unpaid internship program into a paid one. Last summer, I was interviewed by KCBS news radio in San Francisco about that important change. You may listen to that brief interview here.

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