Community Internships (POLS 403)

The Community Internship is based on the premise that when you leave the university, you will be going out to live in the community – not just Honolulu, but possibly any community at all. Unless you are elected to Congress, a statewide office, or to the legislature in one of the states that has a full time legislative body, you will not be spending your whole day dealing with political actors and institutions. With a few rare exceptions, you are likely to spend much more time with youth soccer, swimming teams, children's choirs and music lessons, pursuing your own favorite sport, attending or contributing to cultural events, and the like. All these things are important in the life of a community. The Community Internship gives you an opportunity for exposure to social groups and activities that go far beyond your current daily experience.

For this reason, we will generally approve almost any internship in any organization that conducts itself in an ethical and responsible manner. Charities, governmental offices, political parties, environmental interest groups, cultural organizations and the like are almost always on the up-and-up. There are a couple of types of organizations that are not generally OK, however:

  • Telephone sales of any kind
  • Door-to-door sale of magazine subscriptions or any other good for the sake of "student scholarship"
  • Distributing fliers in Waikiīkī for commercial tour operations, restaurants, and the like
  • Any "internship" for which the sponsor intends to charge you to participate
  • Any "internship" which exposes you to risk on the behalf of the sponsor (ie. Transporting people or delivering pizza or other goods in your own car.)
  • Any activity for which a license is required for participation
  • Any activity which is illegal

There is a quick test of the appropriateness of a prospective internship – just ask yourself: "Will I be doing this, or working with this kind of organization in some way in 20 years?"

Interested students may apply at the Political Science office at Saunders Hall, Room 640.

FAQs for the Community Internship Program

  1. Where will I be placed for an internship?
    • The community internship is largely self-guided, much like internships in a business school. The key question is, "What do you want to learn to do?" The second question is "Who does that kind of thing and may need some help?" The task: call for an interview appointment and interview for an internship position.
  2. What if I am assigned an intern location far from my home or campus?
    • Since you are the one seeking out internship positions, you can decide which internship opportunities and the location you would like to seek out.
  3. Can I intern for 2 or 3 hours a week?
    • The community internship requires 150 hours of volunteer service for a three-course hour credit. You may take up to 6 credits, but the work requirements of 300 hours over the course of a semester are very demanding, and raise the risk that you might not be able to complete your contracted hours.
  4. Does a community internship have to be with a politician?
    • No, the internship needs only to be within the community. You will likely be engaged in very many kinds of activities in the community (any community) for yourself or on the behalf of someone else, such as a child, over time. The organizations you will be using or working with range all over the arts, culture and politics. You may spend much more time with a theater group, a ballet program, or even a children's opera chorus. You are free to seek an internship with any of these kinds of organizations.
  5. Will I be required to do things that I think are just terrible?
    • Remember, you are the one seeking the internship. You will know what the organization does before you apply there.
  6. Will I have to go to the internship every day?
    • You might not be scheduled every day – since you will make the work schedule fit your classes. You will have to appear at the times you promised to be there. If you are ill, you will notify the internship supervisor at the agency of your illness, and return when you are no longer contagious. Supervisors are asked about your attendance in the final evaluation, which becomes part of your grade.
  7. If I do not like the person directing my intern work, I can just quit.
    • You may leave an internship for pressing reasons – a sudden, serious illness, or if you feel you have been harassed in any way. In this event, you must discuss the illness or harassment with the internship director. In the event of harassment, we must pursue the issue with the sponsor organization – it is an obligation of the university.
  8. This internship is not what I had expected. I am just quitting.
    • If you quit, 50% of your grade is still determined by the evaluation of the intern sponsor.
  9. The internship is supposed to be a cruise. I'll just show up to work my hours.
    • No, the internship is a learning experience. You will have to do novel things and manage problems and projects that you have not done before. Your attitude toward new tasks and the spirit with which you undertake them will shape your supervisor's evaluation of your work.
  10. Why can't the Department just put me in an internship?
    • We go back to the first question, what do you want to do?
  11. Isn't there a list of organizations that offer internships?
  12. I understand there are no academic responsibilities for community interns.
    • No, community interns must complete a paper at the end of the term explaining the benefits of the internship, the contribution of specific pieces of your undergraduate education to the internship experience, and find two news references to your site, the industry, or policies that affect the internship's area of work.
  13. I have to register today; can I get permission to enroll in the course?
    • As the application form spells out you need a commitment from a sponsor first. In general, the class will not fill, cutting you out, but if you can get your work together before the week that classes start, we can get the permission to register entered in MyUH. The later that goes, the more likely everything gets stuck in the start-of-semester flood on the UH registration computing system.
  14. My uncle has a public relations firm. Can I intern for him?
    • No, you may not work for a relative.