IOP Internship Can Lead to Employment

The Director’s Internships can help with post-graduation job search

The IOP: Director's Internship
Tiantian Shi

The Institute of Politics offers Director's Internships that has led to full-time, paid positions for some students.

While most seniors began their job search this past fall at countless Office of Career Services info sessions and recruitment events—with many continuing the process into the spring—several students have started and ended their job search just a block away at the Institute of Politics.

The IOP-sponsored Director’s Internships provide Harvard students with a chance to engage in the world of politics and public service for a summer. But for some students, this experience can lead to a full-time post-graduate position.

For Eric N. Hysen ’11 and Abby D. Phillip ’10, the Director’s Internships provided much more than an educational opportunity—each of them say they came away from their summer with a positive, professional experience that ultimately led them to accept full-time jobs with their internship employers after graduation.

Hysen, who will take a job at Google after working there the past two summers, found that his experiences during the Director’s Internship changed his long-term career goals.

“I really didn’t think that I would be working at a big company,” Hysen said.

“But I was able to find this group of people doing exactly what I’m interested in doing. There’s no way that would have happened without the Director’s Internship,” he added.

Many students say they were given responsibilities far greater than those of typical interns, resulting in a substantive experience.

Phillip, a former Crimson news executive who interned at the political news outlet Politico in 2009, said her substantial responsibilities during her internship gave her a sense of the life of a professional reporter at the publication.

“Day to day, I was more or less like a full-time employee—coming in in the morning, making phone calls, reporting on stories, and writing on deadline,” Phillip said.

“It wasn’t really a training program—it was a job, and you had to just jump in whether you were ready or not,” he added.

According to Amy A. Howell, director of the IOP’s internship programs, a 2008 survey conducted by the IOP found that 20% of former interns said that their experience either led or connected them directly to paid employment.

Each of the three students said that they stayed in contact with their office after completing the summer program —communication that proved critical when they began searching for jobs for after graduation.

Phillips said that prior experience at a company allows recent college graduates to be more competitive in the job market.

“[A Director’s Internship] lets employees try out candidates before they hire them to see if they’re a good fit,” Phillip said. “It allows undergrads with just a bachelor’s degree to get their foot in the door.”

The Director’s Internship program started in 1995 with 10 internships intended to encourage students to spend their summers engaged in politics.

Since then, the program has expanded to include 60 internships encompassing a wide variety of fields.

This year’s offerings include internships in the offices of elected officials—both Republicans and Democrats—as well at as think tanks, media organizations, and non-profits.

“The purpose of the Director’s Internships is completely in line with the mission of the Institute of Politics, and that is to encourage students to consider careers in public service and then to give them the opportunity to work directly in politics and public service over the summer months,” said Howell.

Each internship lasts for eight to ten weeks and includes a $4,000 dollar stipend to cover living expenses for the duration of the program.

—Staff writer Monica M. Dodge can be reached at mdodge@college.harvard.edu.

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