Political science internships offer unique real world experience


Matthew Bates

Senior Gayathri Muthuraman organizes papers containing donation history and contact information at her internship. She uses this data to prioritize which voters would be interested in coming to important campaign events.

Catherine Xu, Art&Style editor

With the start of second semester came an exciting opportunity for a select group of seniors: internships that offer exposure to political work. Every A day, seniors enrolled in political science are dismissed early to attend their internships. During the first semester of the class, students actively learn about practices and theories of the government system through debates and guest speakers. Students are responsible for finding an internship, which then constitutes a majority of their second semester grade, according to political science teacher Matt Miles. This year, the political science students are working on a variety of campaigns.

“I intern for congressman Gerry Connolly of the 11th District, and I’m part of a group with six other interns,” senior Gayathri Muthuraman said. “The majority of the work we do focuses on collecting information from the voter database, researching opposing candidates and helping out with local campaign events.”

While knowledge of the system helps students in their work, interning gives them a better understanding of what it would be like to have a job in politics. Students learn aspects of the job that they may not have previously realized.

“The most surprising thing about being an intern for a political campaign was the amount of money involved in financing it,” Muthuraman said. “I was shocked at how meticulous the process of financing the campaign is.”

This opportunity presents seniors with a firsthand glance at working in the political science field. Interns are immersed into authentic work environments and reviewed by their supervisors similar to actual employees.

“I was expecting to do a lot of ordinary office work, but I’m getting a lot of experience looking at data and evaluating strengths and weaknesses of campaigning to certain groups in certain areas,” senior Abdelrahman Osman said. “I do a lot of work that people in the office get paid to do. It’s interesting and an honest exposure to what it would be like to work in political science or for a campaign.”

Students can choose to intern in any government-related job, ranging from interning in the IT department to the court system. The freedom allows students to gain experience in specific fields that they may wish to pursue in the future.

“I intern at the Fairfax County District Court because I would like to have a career involving the judicial system,” senior Madison Wasem said. “I want to know the behind the scenes that goes on, besides the lawyers and arguing a case, and explore other opportunities within the field.”

Internship opportunities allow students to grow familiar with not only the workplace, but also other people in that line of work. Building a reputation and networking with others in the field provide them with an advantage when they search for related jobs in the future.

“I love that I get to leave school early to experience a completely different environment and build my resume and connections in a field I love,” Wasem said. “I review cases and watch trials of all degrees of extremes. I have seen people get arrested and sentenced to jail time.”

Exposure to the responsibilities and duties of professionals in the field prepares seniors for their future careers and helps them decide whether or not they would enjoy working in similar settings. Students make these discoveries through this unique and hands-on opportunity.

“If a student is interested in this field, be it law, campaigns, Congress or government in general, this gives them a deeper understanding of what goes on even if they end up not doing it,” Miles said. “They get to see the government working; that’s invaluable regardless of if you want to be working in the government.”