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IOP Director’s Internship Program Adds 20 New Host Programs, ‘Hometown’ Internships

The Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School runs Director's Internships, which provide students with opportunities to explore politics and public service.
The Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School runs Director's Internships, which provide students with opportunities to explore politics and public service. By Steve S. Li
By Sixiao Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

This summer, the Director’s Internship program at Harvard’s Institute of Politics will offer funded summer internship opportunities at 145 host organizations, as well as a new program aimed at students interested in pursuing public service in their hometowns.

This year’s slate of internships — which include new offerings such as programs at the World Bank and the advocacy organization Time’s Up — come with at least a $5,000 stipend for participants, who must go through a competitive application process.

In 2019, the IOP offered summer jobs with 125 organizations through the Director’s Internship, up from 100 the year before.

The IOP is also debuting a new “hometown” internship, which funds independent internships in local government or with local non-profits.

“We recognize that public service and really good work is going on around the country, not just in Washington or New York,” IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78 said.

Samantha J. Frenkel-Popell ’21, chair of internships and career services at the IOP, called the hometown program an “amazing opportunity” for students to find a summer activity that “matters to them.”

Included in the new group of programs are a host of internships related to the 2020 election cycle, including opportunities with the Democratic and Republican National Committee Conventions.

Gearan said his public service experience as an undergraduate helped him understand the importance of facilitating such work for current students.

“When I was an undergraduate here, I received a summer stipend, and that really allowed for me to go to Washington — I was a financial aid student — and allowed me to work for my congressman,” Gearan said. “And it really exposed me to policy and politics and communications and really shaped some of my career direction.”

“So I come to this with a personal appreciation for it,” he added.

In addition to the Director’s Internship Program, the IOP offers other summer opportunities such as the Summer Stipend Program, which funds independent public service internships, and the Summer in Washington Program, which organizes public-service focused events in Washington D.C. for Harvard undergraduates.

Gearan also pointed to University President Lawrence S. Bacow’s call for Harvard graduates to pursue public service in his inauguration address as motivation for expanding such opportunities for students.

He said he hopes students share the lessons they learn during the Director’s Internship program with peers when they return to campus in the fall.

“Other students who might have not had that summer experience can also be informed and perhaps even inspired by the work when they hear about one of our interns working in the mayor’s office or for a non-profit,” Gearan said.

—Staff writer Sixiao Yu can be reached at

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