POLS 403: Community Internship

POLS 403 is a learning experience. The Community Internship gives students an opportunity for exposure to social groups and activities that go far beyond their current daily experience. Interns will do novel things like manage problems and projects, and apply skills that they have learned in their undergraduate program. The attitude and spirit interns take toward these new tasks will help shape the internship supervisor evaluation (50% of the course grade).

Picking an Internship Site

The community internship is mainly self-guided. Students must seek and secure their own internship experiences. When considering internship site options, students should ask themselves these questions:

  1. What do I want to learn to do?
  2. What groups do the things I want to learn?
  3. How far am I willing/able to commute?
  4. Will I be willing/able to do all the things the internship requires?
  5. How much time can I commit to the internship?

The department will generally approve internships in any organization that conducts itself ethically and responsibly. Opportunities include but are not limited to:

  • Charities, nonprofits
  • Governmental offices, political parties
  • Environmental interest groups
  • Arts and cultural groups (sport, music, theater)
  • Public relations firms

The following situations are considered unacceptable:

  • Telephone or door-to-door sales
  • Distributing fliers for commercial businesses (ex. tour operations, restaurants)
  • Any internship which exposes participants to risk on behalf of the sponsor (ex. transporting goods/people in an intern's car.)
  • Any internship which requires a license to participate
  • Any internship which requires payment to participate
  • Any internship which involves illegal activities
  • Any internship for a family member or relative

All proposed internship sites are subject to department approval.


I. General

  • Three credits of POLS 403 requires 150 internship hours (50 hours per credit, roughly 10 hours/week)
  • Students may take a maximum of six credits (300 internship hours)
  • Students must ensure that internship hours allow for the time needed for other academic and non-academic responsibilities

II. Attendance

Interns must appear at agreed-upon times. If ill, interns must notify the internship supervisor and return when they are no longer contagious. Internship supervisors report intern attendance in their final evaluation, which becomes part of the course grade.

Interns may leave an internship for a pressing reason, such as illness or harassment. In this event, interns must discuss the situation with the department. In the event of harassment, the department must pursue the issue with the sponsor organization as it is an obligation of the University.

The internship supervisor evaluation still determines 50% of the course grade if an intern quits.

III. Academic

Interns must complete a paper at the end of the term explaining what they gained from the internship; the contribution of specific pieces of their undergraduate education to the internship experience; and find two news references to the internship site, the industry, or policies that affect the area of work.

Next Steps

Students interested in POLS 403: Community Internship should email Professor Larry Nitz (lnitz@hawaii.edu) to discuss and receive approval for their community internship.

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