Washington Internship Program
Since the mid-1970s well over 1200 Stockton students have completed para-professional internships in Washington, DC. One of the largest groups of Washington Center alumni is from Stockton University. It is very common to find Stockton alumni – in the Washington, DC metropolitan region – who trace the trajectory of their career paths to their internships as Stockton undergraduates.
The Washington Internship program is an intensive para-professional and academic experience in which Stockton students live, work, and study in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. Stockton University is affiliated with the nation’s largest internship organization, The Washington Center. This organization provides all the major facets of a student’s internship experience, i.e., facilitating the application process; distributing the application to potential placement sites; providing program activities, advising, supervision, and evaluation; hiring faculty for the evening classes; and providing housing and residence life activities.
Internships are available for all majors at Stockton University.
Interns receive 16 academic credits that are applied to graduation requirements (e.g., Program, Cognate, ASD). Internships are available during the regular Fall & Spring semesters (15 weeks) and during the summer (10 weeks). Stockton students who are unable to do an internship during their undergraduate years can apply for a Post-Graduate internship (available Fall, Spring, and Summer).
- Internship expenses are comparable to the costs of a semester at Stockton.
Generally, the cost of a Washington internship is comparable to the expenses (i.e., tuition, fees, room & board, books) for a full semester at Stockton University. This is the case because Stockton University is the only institution in the country that receives an automatic $2,550 discount from the Washington Center(Fall/Spring); the discount is $1,700
in Summer). Whatever financial assistance Stockton students receive during the regular academic semesters is applied directly to the costs of a Washington internship. The Washington Center provides scholarships and a few fully paid internships (on a competitive basis). Moreover, all Stockton interns also receive an $800 stipend that can be used to defray the costs of commuting, meals, tuition, or personal amenities.
- Internships significantly enhance marketability for professional jobs and graduate
In addition to academic credit, internships represent an invaluable opportunity to significantly enhance a student’s resume by developing professional skills, on-the-job training, and analytical tools for jobs and graduate school. Interns also acquire a broad network of contacts which can be critical in job searches, job referrals, and letters of recommendations for professional positions or graduate school.
- Internships offer innumerable opportunities for personal development.
A semester can profoundly (and positively) affect an individual’s growth and maturity. Many students become increasingly self-confident by successfully negotiating the demands of working at a full-time (36 hours weekly) internship; commuting to their internship job and program activities; meeting the academic requirements of their evening class; developing new friendships, enjoying the rich social and cultural life of the nation’s capital; and maintaining an apartment with three (fellow-intern) roommates.
Types of Internships:
It is important to bear in mind that there are literally hundreds of individual internship placements within the following list of internship categories.
- US Congressional Offices; the White House, Political Campaigns
- Executive Branch Departments & Federal Agencies
- Nonprofit, Social Service & Advocacy Organizations
- Federal and Local Criminal Justice Agencies & Law Firms
- Broadcast & Print Media
- Public Relations and Lobbying Firms
- Museum & Cultural Institutions
- Investment, Accounting, Marketing, and Advertising Firms
- Foreign Policy & International Aid Organizations
- Research Organizations in the Natural, Biological, & Medical Sciences
As the largest internship organization in the country, the Washington Center utilizes its vast network of contacts to facilitate the placement of students.
Who is Eligible for an Internship?
Many students believe incorrectly that it is quite difficult to be accepted into the Washington Center’s internship program. In fact, the admission requirements are fairly minimal, a 2.75 GPA. Essentially, once the Campus Liaison signs a student’s application they are virtually assured of acceptance. If a student’s GPA is slightly below a 2.75 an additional letter of recommendation is required, and the application is given an additional level of review by the Washington Center. Thus far, most of the (very) few Stockton students who have applied with a GPA below a 2.75 have all been accepted, and have received excellent internship placements. Students who have a 2.75 GPA or higher DO NOT need a letter of recommendation. A letter of recommendation is ONLY needed for students who have a GPA lower the a 2.75.
Please Note: Internships are open to both US and international students. However, some (Washington Center) scholarship and internship opportunities are available only to US citizens. Also, all prospective interns cannot start a Washington internship until they are at least a second-semester sophomore.
It is crucial to bear in mind that the main question for any prospective Stockton student is not whether they will be accepted into the Washington internship – that is virtually assured with a 2.75 GPA and the Campus Liaison’s signature on the application. Nor is it a question of whether a student will receive an internship placement – once their application is accepted an internship is guaranteed. Instead, the only real question is “where” a student will be placed.
Preliminary Considerations before Applying for an Internship:
What is the best semester for an internship? – Students should weigh carefully which semester is the most appropriate time for an internship. Students who hope to turn their internship experience into a possible (permanent) job offer – which does occur at times – should consider an internship during their very last semester at Stockton. That will enable interns who are offered a permanent job to transition easily into their full-time position. Other students may seek an internship experience, the enhancement of their resumes, and the development of para-professional skills, without necessarily hoping to turn their internship into a permanent job in Washington. For these students, any semester – starting with the second semester of their sophomore year – would be a good time to be in Washington. Some students are in majors with fairly structured curricular requirements. If students cannot be away from Stockton during the Fall/Spring semesters, then a (10-week) summer internship may be the best option. Also, for students who cannot do an internship at all during their undergraduate years, a post-graduate internship is also available for students who have recently graduated. Students interested in a post-graduate internship should consult with Prof. Rodriguez to discuss the particulars of this option. Another consideration is that there is significantly less competition for the more coveted internship positions during the Fall/Spring semesters. During the regular academic year, there are many more internship opportunities than students to fill them. The competition for internships is especially intense during the summer. However, it is important to bear in mind, that all Stockton students who are accepted into the Washington Center are guaranteed an internship placement; this is also true during the summer when the competition is much greater.
Talk to parents – it is absolutely essential that students discuss with their parents what a Washington internship entails. This should be done well before a student begins the application process, especially if parents are contributing financially to a student’s undergraduate education.
Review program/graduation requirements with a preceptor – students receive 16 academic credits for a Washington internship. Of these, 8 credits are for the internship itself (WASH 3940 Washington Internship), and 4 credits are for the evening course all students take during their Washington internship(WASH 3620 Washington Seminar), and 4 credits are for the career readiness program (WASH 3300 LEAD Colloquium). Before an application is submitted, students should consult with their preceptor to decide – before the internship begins – where the 16 credits should be allocated, i.e., either to program, cognate, or ASD requirements.
Review Financial Assistance Status – there are several considerations that students should bear in mind as they make arrangements to pay for their internship semester.
First, the costs of the Washington internship program are paid directly to to Stockton University. The University handles billing for the internship program just like any other semester (student can pay in one payment or use the installment payment plan).
Second, whatever financial assistance (e.g., scholarships, grants, loans) students usually receive during the Fall/Spring/Summer is applied to the program/housing fees of the Washington Center.
Third, generally, an internship semester in Washington, DC costs about what is needed for a full-time semester at Stockton (i.e., the tuition and student fees for four courses, room and board, books, and personal expenses). Meals are not included in the Washington Center fee schedule; meals are paid for by student interns.
Fourth, what makes the full cost of an academic semester at Stockton comparable to the overall
budget for a Washington internship is the $2,550 discount that all Stockton students
receive from the Washington Center. Moreover, unlike many other institutions, Stockton
does not add additional administrative fees to a student’s bill; students are billed
exactly what Stockton is billed for each
Fifth, Stockton University gives each intern an $800 stipend to help defray the costs of a Washington internship. The stipend is generally received at the mid-point of a student’s internship semester in DC. The money can be used for commuting expenses, meals, and personal items.
Sixth, the Washington Center also offers – on a competitive basis – scholarships of various amounts. In order to be considered for scholarships students need to submit their application before the “Early Deadline” for each individual semester. There is not a separate application for scholarships. Students merely have to mark the scholarship categories on the first page of the application form, in order to be considered.
The Application Process:
Stockton students applying for an internship should visit the Washington Center’s website (http://www.twc.edu) and click on “Find a Program,” then "Academic Internship Program." A great deal of pertinent information is available by following the links from the menu on the right-hand side of the page.
Students should familiarize themselves with the general details of the program; speak with their preceptor to discuss how the 16 credits may be allocated among program, cognate, or ASD graduation requirements, carefully review whether they are financially prepared to assume the costs of an internship in Washington, and meet with the Campus Liaison (Professor Michael S. Rodriguez) before the application process is initiated.
It is important to remember that whatever financial assistance Stockton students receive can be applied to the costs of a Washington internship. Students should also bear in mind that the two main costs (program and housing) as listed on the Washington Center’s website do not reflect the $2,550 discount that only Stockton students receive. That discount should be subtracted from the program and housing costs that are listed on the Washington Center’s website. Stockton students also receive an $800 stipend that is paid by Stockton University.
The application packet includes the following items:
The application form – students apply online at: (http://www.twc.edu/programs/academic-internship-program#how-to-apply).
A current resume – students should have the Career Center staff review their resumes before submitting them to the Washington Center. For assistance on developing a professional resume students should call Career Center to set up an appointment for a one-on-one session. The office number is 609-652-4650.
An official Stockton transcript – the Campus Liaison will obtain an official transcript from Student Records. Students must have at least a 2.75 GPA – at the time the application is submitted – to be accepted into the Washington Internship Program. However, the cut-off is not absolute. If a student is slightly below the minimum GPA an additional letter of recommendation is required (for a total of 3). The critical difference is that as long as students meet the minimum GPA they are virtually assured of being accepted into the internship program. For students, below the minimum 2.75 GPA, the third letter is usually enough to ensure admission. However, it must be noted that for students below the minimum there is a remote possibility that the Washington Center may reject their applications.
Two essays –these are probably the most important (and time-consuming) items of the application packet. Prospective students are required to write two essays. The first one (500 words) addresses an issue of interest to the applicant. The essay is an opinion (or reflection) piece that demonstrates a student’s ability to think clearly, write cogently, and formulate a reasonably coherent argument. The issue essay signals to the Washington Center and the organizations that receive the application the student’s area of interest for the internship experience. In short, the issue essay should generally relate to the type of internship a student is seeking. For instance, a Biology major who is interested in a research based internship may write about the ongoing debate, and controversy, on public funding of stem cell research.
The second essay (100 words) is a very short description of the type of internship work a student envisions, and how it relates to their broader educational and professional aspirations. It is very important for a student to not mention that they want an internship at a specific place. A number of prospective employers will read a student’s application. It is important for students to not give the impression that they are interested in only one potential internship placement.
Both essays are reviewed by the Campus Liaison and returned for subsequent revision, if necessary.
One letter of recommendation – students need to a Stockton professor who is willing to write a strong letter recommendation.Students
only need to identify the
recommender by name and email on the application. They will receive an automated email asking
them to upload the letter.
The $60 application fee can be avoided by asking Prof. Rodriguez for a waiver code which means students do not pay the application fee. It is important to note that submitting an application to the Washington Center does not mean a student is somehow “locked” into going to Washington. If circumstances arise that preclude a student from accepting an internship offer, their application can be withdrawn up until a student accepts an internship offer.
What Happens before an Internship?
In addition to interviewing for – and securing – an internship placement, there are a number of steps students need to take before their internship begins.
Housing during the internship –housing is provided by the Washington Center at its apartment building – the Residential and Academic Facility (The RAF). The apartments are fully furnished with two bedrooms (a bathroom for each bedroom), a living room and dining space, and a full kitchen (with a dishwasher). The apartments also have their own washer and dryer. Students will be provided a list of personal items to bring before the move-in (bedding, toiletries, etc.). Two students are assigned to each bedroom. The building is quite secure. Interns must show their Washington Center ID to a concierge upon entering the complex. Restaurants and grocery stores are within walking distance of the building and the subway (Metro) stop is a block away. The Metro stop is called NoMa.
Selecting the internship course – several weeks before an internship begins the Washington Center will ask prospective interns to identify their top five choices for the evening class they will take during their internship. The form and a list of classes (along with course descriptions) will be provided to students. The Washington Center typically offers between 15-20 courses each semester. The Washington Center hires the faculty, who are professors and practitioners from the Washington, DC metropolitan region. The classes meet once a week, in the evening for 3 hours (6:30-9:30pm).
Registering for internship credits – before students begin their Washington internship they are registered for the following credits: Washington Internship (WASH 3940 Washington Internship – 8 credits); WASH 3620 Washington Seminar – 4 credits; and WASH 3300 LEAD Colloquium – 4 credits. Students require a POI (Permission-of-Instructor) before they can register for the credits. It is important to remember that these are Stockton University credits (not transfer credits). The grades students earn for the 16 credits are factored into their Stockton GPA.
Notifying Stockton offices – the Campus Liaison emails a list of interns to a number of Stockton University offices and departments, to notify them of the students who will be away for a semester (some of the offices are Student Records, Financial Aid, Academic Affairs, the Bursar’s Office, Housing and Residence Life, etc.).
Paying the Washington Center bill – Student interns pay their internship fees directly to Stockton University. The University then conveys the revenue directly to the Washington Center. The $2,550 discount is applied to the bill before it is sent to Stockton. The Washington Center notifies students about the discount and describes it as a scholarship. Remember that the discount/scholarship is applied to the bill. Students do not receive the discount/scholarship – it is deducted from the bill the Washington Center send the University.
What Happens During an Internship?
A Washington internship is a very intensive experience. Essentially, students do the following activities in the course of a typical week
36-hour work-week – a Washington internship should be viewed as a full-time work experience. Interns work along-side regular professional staffs at their placement sites. Internships are designed to provide real, hands-on experience and development of para-professional skills. The Washington Center requires that at least 80% of an intern’s work assignments be substantive.
Internship class – as noted earlier the internship class meets once a week, for three hours (from 6:30pm-9:30 pm). Classes are typically held on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. As with any class, attendance is mandatory, and interns are required to do the reading and writing assignments on a timely basis.
The internship e-portfolio – throughout the semester interns work on some aspect of their e-portfolio, with supervision from their Program Advisors. This is an electronic portfolio that contains an interns objectives/goal for the semester, resume, bio, work samples, and selections from their evening course. After the internship it can be shown to prospective employers or graduate schools as an demonstration of a student’s career potential, para-professional experiences, and analytical ability. Interns work closely with the Program Advisors throughout the semester to develop their portfolios.
Social activities – during any given semester, as many as 400 interns are part of the Washington Center’s program, from throughout the United States and several other countries. The opportunities to make enduring friendships are innumerable, as are the opportunities to enjoy the vibrant social and cultural life in the nation’s capital.
Stockton students need to be fully aware that Washington, DC is a very expensive city. One of the biggest concerns for Stockton interns is that they invariably spend more money than they anticipated – particularly on meals and social activities. It is very common for interns to be invited by friends to restaurants during the week, and to bars and other social venues at night. An active social life can be exceedingly expensive. Students need to exercise caution and discipline in how they budget and spend their money. For the most part, interns do not have paid internships, and it is very difficult to hold down a part-time job while doing an internship in Washington. Interns are generally advised to budget approximately $100 a week for commuting expenses, meals, social activities, and personal expenses.
The week before an internship semester begins all students attend a series of orientation activities. A great deal of attention is paid to the Do’s and Don’ts of living and working in the Washington, DC area. For students who are unaccustomed to living in an urban environment, they should be cognizant of the fact that it is always safer to explore Washington, DC in the company of fellow interns.
It is certainly a bit cliché, but true nonetheless: An internship is what one makes of it. A Washington internship has the potential to be a uniquely transformative period in a student’s life. There are a great many examples of Stockton alums whose personal and professional development was immensely enhanced by their Washington internship. But it is up to each individual student to make the most of the experience. This means that students should be especially diligent in performing their internship responsibilities. They should volunteer for additional work assignments and seek out the mentorship and advice of Washingtonians who have achieved professional success. Washington, DC is a city of very prominent and powerful people. It is incumbent upon Stockton students to “rub elbows” with these folks, to learn as much as possible from them, and to emulate their strategies and philosophies for achieving success in one’s career.