The MPA Program believes strongly that internships form a very important part of the educational experience of each student. Because of this belief, all pre-service MPA students are required to complete at least one internship as part of their degree program. Six credit hours can be earned in the internship and applied to the 42 credit hours that is required of all MPA students.
Students should look at an internship as an important opportunity to further their career, so the location of the internship is an important consideration. The program feels strongly that an internship should provide students with:
- An opportunity to see the world of work
- An opportunity to learn about public service beyond textbook descriptions
- An opportunity to work closely with an experienced mentor who can provide invaluable practical advice
- Opportunities to network with important persons whom students would not likely otherwise get to meet or talk with, let alone have frequent access to
- An opportunity to have an insider's advantage when it comes to finding a job
Each student bears the responsibility for finding his or her internship. Faculty members can help with names and telephone numbers of persons to contact but students must make all arrangements concerning the internship.
We will only approve public, non-profit agencies as venues for internships. Typical private businesses, for relatives or corporations, and private sector jobs are not suitable for MPA internships. Also, the internship involves at least twelve weeks of full-time service in a setting that allows the student to observe and participate in significant management problems.
The program encourages students to complete two internships, one during the summer between the first and second years in the program plus a second internship at the end of the program. Many students benefit from the practical experience of working and report that classes that follow an internship are more interesting because the students can see more clearly what the textbook or the instructor are talking about.
A second internship at the end of the program gives students a greater chance of turning the internship into a paying job. Completing two internships allows students to see different kinds of agencies. For example, students might want to work at two different types of state agencies, or work for a city and then a county, or students might want to consider going back to the same agency a second time to further strengthen ties.
Many interns are paid during their internship; the normal rate for MPA students is $5000 for a semester of full-time service. Students are free to negotiate a higher or a lower rate of compensation or to work for free, but the responsibility is on the student to secure an internship that is suitable.
Always secure approval from the MPA Director before you commit to an internship so that no problem arises about the type of agency. An internship paper is always required of each student.
Exceptions to the internship requirement are made only for in-service students. In-service students are those persons who are already employed full-time in their chosen career. If you are "in-service", you will not register for PA 5900 Internship in Public Affairs. In-service students register for an additional elective course and register for a special course, PA 5010 Field-Based Research, in which a management problem facing their current agency is addressed.
"The knowledge, skills, and practical experience I received through the MPA program have been pertinent to the success of my career." -MPA Alum