UMass Amherst Department of Political Science

Internships

If you want an idea of what an internship is like, or what places a student can intern, look at other students' internships by taking a look at our internship profiles! 

I.  GENERAL INFORMATION

The Internship Coordinator for the Department is Professor Alan Gaitenby.  

A Legal Studies internship is a field based learning experience in a law-related organization, office, or government agency that provides a public service.  According to University regulations, students who have completed 45 credits and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher are eligible to register for an internship.  There may be additional requirements for specific Legal Studies internships. 

The requirements for a Legal Studies internship are:

  • Work under the supervision of an attorney if possible
  • Work at a law-related site that has a public interest component (generally this means not working with private attorneys)
  • Work one to three days per week at the internship site

If you choose to participate in an internship, you will register for Legal 298, Practicum. Legal 298 is not graded; it is a Pass/Fail course. Legal 298 does not count toward your Legal Studies requirements but does count as graduation credits.

You may register for a maximum of 15 internship credits, which may be spread out over more than one semester. The number of credits you get depends on the amount of time you spend working at the internship. Generally, you will need to spend one full day per week for 14 weeks for 3 credits; 2 days for 6 credits; 3 days for 9 credits. We don’t usually approve any one internship for more than 9 credits. You may not be paid for the work you perform at your internship.

All students who participate in an internship must also participate in the Legal Studies Internship Seminar and register for 1 credit of Legal 496. The seminar meets six times during the semester for 1-1/2 hours in the evening and is led by Professor Holmes. Requirements of the Seminar are to participate in all seminar meetings, keep a daily journal, conduct an on-site key informant interview, visit another internship site, and write a five page paper reflecting on your experience.

Students may do internships during the academic year or over the summer. If you choose to do a summer internship and want to receive academic credit, you must register for Legal 298 through the Division of Continuing Education and pay for the credits. You will need a faculty sponsor for your internship. Professor Holmes serves as faculty sponsor for most internships.

 

II. HOW TO FIND AN INTERNSHIP

A. The Legal Studies major sponsors two internships:

1. Civil Rights Internship. (This program is currently on hold)

2. Judicial Internship Program. This is an opportunity to spend time observing and discussing court proceedings with Judge Judd Carhart and other Superior Court judges who hear cases in Springfield, Northampton, and Greenfield. The prerequisite is Judge Carhart’s course, Due Process in Criminal Trial (Legal 391U). After you have completed this course, you need to apply for the internship. Judge Carhart makes the final selection of students; preference is given to Legal Studies majors.  

B. Other Law Related Internships

Legal Studies students have done internships at local agencies which are part of the state criminal justice system. These include * Department of Youth Services * District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Program * Hampshire County Jail * Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office * Public Defender’s Office * Mayor’s Office on Consumer Protection * YWCA SafePlan * Safe Passages * Eastern Hampshire County District Court

Information about these internships, including the name of the contact person, is located on the Bulletin Board next to Thompson 232. Be sure to also check the Political Science and Legal Studies Advising Blog for openings. In general, new positions are posted every Monday.

Once you have identified an internship that looks interesting, contact the internship supervisor and see what you need to do to apply. This will probably involve a personal interview. If you are selected, ask the internship supervisor to send us confirmation that you have been accepted.

C. Legal Studies Faculty

Any faculty member in the Department may sponsor an internship. If you are interested in an internship related to the area of research of a faculty member, talk to that faculty member directly. 

D. UMass Field Experience Office, Career Services

The UMass Field Experience Office is another resource for finding internships. Their website is http://www.umass.edu/careers/internships/

E. Family connections, neighbors, friends

Another method of finding an internship is through your own connections. For instance, if you know a lawyer who you think it might be interesting to work with, ask that person if s/he would be willing to supervise you. If the lawyer agrees, ask him/her to write up a description of what you will be doing. Then you need to talk to the Internship coordinator and get approval to proceed with the internship.

F. Prior Internships from other UMass Students

If you want some inspiration for potential internships, you should take a look at the internship profiles that other UMass students have completed. Keep in mind that this list isn't exhaustive, and there are a variety of internships available.

 

III. STEPS TO TAKE TO FIND AN INTERNSHIP

A. Begin well in advance of starting the internship. Start investigating internship possibilities before Registration starts.

B. Find the internship you want to do. Review the information about internships sponsored by the Legal Studies Department and the information posted on the bulletin board. Talk to family members, friends, and acquaintances. Visit the Political Science and Legal Studies Advising Blog.

C. Apply for the internship. Do whatever you need to do to be accepted for the internship, e.g. submit an application or contact the internship supervisor.

D. Get a letter describing your internship duties. Once you have been accepted for an internship, ask your internship supervisor to write a letter outlining the work you will be doing and whatever training you will receive.

E. Meet with the Legal Studies Internship Coordinator.  

F. The credits for your internship and the Internship Seminar will be added to your Spire Account by the Department.

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