Carnegie Mellon University

CMU/WSP Internship Seminar

Course Number: 84-360

The internship is the experiential "core" of the Washington Semester Program.  Students intern three days per week, for approximately 24-25 hours, in offices from Capitol Hill to the White House and including opportunities in cabinet agencies, nonprofit institutions, museums, advocacy groups, policy think tanks, cultural institutions, and news organizations.  Through the internship, students gain professional experience and make long-lasting professional and personal contacts. In addition, students meet once a week with the CMU internship faculty for a 2-hour seminar to report and reflect on their internship experiences, and address pressing current issues from the perspective of their internship organization.   In addition, the weekly seminar typically includes 1-2 CMU alumni from the Washington, DC, area. Their personal and professional experiences become part of the seminar conversation, and they make themselves available to students as ongoing sources of information and advice.

Academic Year: 2019-2020
Semester(s): Fall, Spring
Required/Elective: Required
Units: 12
Location(s): Washington, DC

Learning Objectives

Goals fall into three categories: knowledge goals, skill development goals, and personal/professional growth goals.

Knowledge Goals:

  • Knowledge and understanding of each student's internship organization: its mission, organization, functions, and history;
  • Knowledge and mastery of the specific roles and tasks assigned to each student as an intern;
  • Knowledge and understanding of the way(s) in which each student's internship organization influences, and is influenced by, local, regional, national and international events, issues and developments of the day.

Skill Development Goals:

  • Development and mastery of the skills necessary to perform internship tasks and fulfill internship role(s) at consistently excellent levels;
  • Development and regular application of the skills of observation, reportage, analysis and reflection on your daily internship experiences in the form of concise and well-written daily internship journal entries;
  • Development of the ability to synthesize daily internship journal entries into increasingly excellent weekly 3-page essays that further hone and illustrate skills of observation, reportage, analysis and reflection; and subsequently, to synthesize these weekly essays into an excellent final paper that identifies and describes salient themes that emerge from the semester internship;
  • Development of the ability to make excellent (concise, articulate, and engaging) oral presentations (in the internship seminar and, where possible and opportune, elsewhere);
  • Development of the ability to conduct and report on informational interviews that expand knowledge and understanding of the work, culture and constituents of an organization (in this case, each student's internship organization);
  • Development of the ability to lead and facilitate small-group seminar sessions in an engaging, inclusive, intelligent, informed, open-minded, respectful and focused fashion;
  • Development of the ability to be an engaging, intelligent, informed, open-minded, respectful and focused participant in small-group seminar sessions;
  • As both leader and participant in small-group seminar sessions, the development of the important complimentary skill of listening to and understanding what fellow-participants say, understanding the logic underlying their statements, and incorporating these into subsequent statements, responses and questions;
  • Acquisition of the value of a personal and professional network and the rudimentary skills of building a network, including interaction with CMU alumni/ae.

Personal and Professional Growth Goals:

  • Recognize, articulate and illustrate the way(s) in which the semester’s internship experience has affected personal growth in areas such as self-confidence, independence, comfort with uncertainty and ambiguity about one's future, maturity, understanding and appreciation of diverse and alternate points of view, empathy, civic engagement, values, and such abilities as prioritizing, managing multiple responsibilities, maintaining an appropriate work-life balance, meeting deadlines, and maintaining an appropriate personal and professional demeanor;
  • Recognize, articulate and illustrate the way(s) in which the semester’s internship experience has affected professional goals, aspirations, priorities and values;
  • Learning about career exploration and professional flexibility through narratives shared by CMU alumni/ae;
  • Development of the ability to explore nuanced and varied descriptions of ‘good’ or satisfying work;
  • Identification of next steps and resources for support as each student engages in his or her career exploration process.

Fall 2019
2:30-4:50 PM

This course is only open to students participating in the CMU/WSP.

Required course for the following IPS degree:
Minor in Politics and Public Policy

Elective course for the following IPS degrees:
B.S. International Relations and Politics
Additional Major in International Relations and Politics
B.S. Economics and Politics
Additional Major in Economics and Politics