All materials are submitted via our online application, which you can access here. Below are the requirements to participate in the program:
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign undergraduates of any major;
- Full-time enrollment in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
- Completion of 45 credits and at least one year in residence at an institution of higher learning;
- A cumulative grade point average no less than 2.5 on a 4.0 scale; and
- Basic understanding of the institutional environment where you seek to intern: for example, by taking classes or being engaged in volunteer work or student clubs that relate to what you are hoping to do in DC.
Students can choose to participate in IIW in fall (applications due April 15), spring (October 1) or summer (February 1). Students are encouraged to apply for early decision, just submit your materials on one of the due dates and specify the future term you are applying for. Applying early will give you more time to plan your internship search and get ready to experience everything Washington, DC has to offer.
You will need the following to complete your application:
- A current resume.
- Some form of evidence from the Career Center stating that your resume has been reviewed by someone on their staff. (This can take the form of a written letter, an email, a screenshot of a Zoom meeting, or a copy of your resume with annotations. It does not need to be a formal letter if you are unable to obtain one.)
- A three- to five-page writing sample from one of your classes at the U of I (graded, if possible).
- Two recommendations, either two from professors/instructors or one from a professor/instructor and one from an employer, a public official, or a community contact. Recommenders will automatically receive a short recommendation for to complete once you have submitted your application.
- A DARS Report or academic history. Information on how to accesses the DARS system is available in the online application.
IIW is not considered a study aboard program by U of I, so participation in IIW will not prevent you from participating in a study abroad program offered through U of I.
By participating in IIW, you will develop professional work experience, expand your understanding of Washington, DC, and identify future educational and career goals. You will be mentored by a U of I alum and network with recent IIW graduates. You will participate in career development activities and have your resume professionally reviewed.
Please note that IIW is not simply a cultural and professional immersion program. Rather, you will have graded assignments, required readings, and attendance and participation requirements commensurate with other U of I classes.
Students must complete at least 45 credits prior to the first day of the semester in which they participate in IIW. Summer internships in Washington, DC are much more competitive than those offered in fall and spring. In addition, fall and spring internships generally offer a better opportunity to perform substantive assignments and work one-on-one with staff. Summer internships can be very valuable as well, but they offer a different type of experience than internships offered in fall and spring. Students who want to participate in IIW during the summer need to begin applying for internships at least five months in advance. While some internships are not filled until the last minute, the competitiveness of summer internships means that students will want to begin the application process as early as possible. Fall and spring students should plan to submit at least 15 internship applications. Summer students should plan to submit at least 25 applications.
Admission to IIW for the fall and spring semesters is criteria-based, not competitive. In other words, all students who meet certain criteria will be offered admission. For the summer semester, class size is capped, and admission is offered on a competitive basis. Once offered admission to the IIW program, you can defer your acceptance to any other spring or fall semester. To defer to a summer semester, students will need to apply again for the summer semester of their choice.
US citizenship or permanent resident status is NOT required to participate in the IIW program, but may be required for some internships. If you are an international student and have concerns about your eligibility to intern in the United States, please contact the International Student and Scholar Services.
You will work Monday through Thursday, and reserve Fridays for coursework. PS291 and PS491 meet Friday mornings, and PS125 meets Friday afternoons. PS321 generally meets Monday or Tuesday evenings. Classes meet in the apartment building where IIW students live.
Students are responsible for securing their own internship, but the program does try to help students in their search by providing job postings multiple times a week. Beyond providing internship postings, students are also encourage to look through our internship page which contains links to a number of common internships sites.
There are thousands of organizations that hire interns in Washington, DC. There are over federal agencies alone, and there are organizations that focus on every type of issue and concern, such as international relations and foreign policy, national security, economics, health care, social services, law, entertainment, real estate, education, STEM, etc. That being said, most organizations in the DC area focus in some way the public policies that influence a particular issue. Internships generally involve a fair amount of administrative work with opportunities for more substantive work. You will usually have more opportunities to work one-on-one with staff in the fall and spring than in the summer, due to the length of the semesters and the more frenetic pace of the summer months. Fall and spring internships are generally less competitive than summer internships as well. Most internships in DC are unpaid.
Why Do An Internship?
An internship offers a learning experience that you can’t get in a classroom. An internship is an opportunity:
it can show you the path to the career you have always planned or illuminate unthought-of possibilities. An internship provides you with a new perspective on your life and education. It builds your skills, gives you training and experience, and informs choices that shape the rest of your life.
While other internships may involve only a site and a student, the academic internships offered through IIW connect the student, the internship site, and the university. Our program is designed to deepen your knowledge and experience through reflection. We apply your academic learning in the workplace and analyze your workplace experiences in the classroom and through your coursework, providing a richer, more meaningful experience.
With the abundance of internships in Washington, DC, there is a high likelihood of getting a job that is a good fit for your career and academic goals. You should expect to apply for at least 20 internships, and possibly more. While you may apply to some high-profile organizations, please keep in mind that the smaller organizations often offer internships that are less competitive, and offer more substantive work and opportunities to work one-on-one with staff. A semester performing administrate work for a high-profile organization may not be nearly as helpful and educational as a semester performing more substantive work for a lesser known organization.
Students may need to intern at an office that was not their top choice, given the competitiveness of DC internships. Every student who has participated in IIW has found an internship. You need to plan to apply to internships early, prior to applying to IIW. Summer is the most competitive time for internships, fall the least. In a handful of cases, students have found internships after arriving in DC. Below are some of the places where students have either interned or applied, please note these are only some of the thousand of internships available, especially when it comes to non-profit/advocacy organizations.
Congressional/Political Party Internships:
Most members of the House and Senate utilize interns in their D.C. offices. Below is a list of the current Illinois Representatives and Senators, but feel free to look at any member of Congress’s website to get more information about how to apply for an internship with them.
IL House Members:
A great place to look for internships in any of the federal agencies is on USAjobs.gov. You can also look for internships at each of the agencies websites. For example, please refer to the links below for information on some of the more popular agencies:
If you are not a Political Science major, you always have the option of taking a Political Science course with pass/fail grading.
Students must take at least 12 credits in order to maintain full-time standing. IIW courses are:
- PS125 The Washington Experience (3 credits)
- PS491 Illinois in Washington, Introduction to Internships Seminar (6 credits)
- PS321 Principles of Public Policy (3 credits) – students must take PS321 or any other course from any department (generally in the form of an online course or independent study)
PS491 focuses on students’ internships and on career and professional skills. PS125 involves student visits to organizations and individuals in Washington, DC, as well as several social and cultural events. PS321 covers issues and topics related to public policy, and is cross-listed with a number of other courses from other departments.
IIW will process waivers for students to enroll in the Political Science courses, but it is the student’s responsibility to register for coursework. IIW also requires admitted students to attend a two-hour interviewing skills seminar on the main campus prior to participating in the DC program.
Illinois in Washington is an academic program that provides U of I students with the opportunity to intern and study in Washington D.C. Participants in the IIW program are able to work and study an array of subjects, including: Politics, Journalism, History, Economics, Public Policy, and Communications. The political and cultural environment present throughout Washington, D.C. provides our students with an unique academic and professional experience.
The curriculum for IIW differs from other programs by allowing students to tailor part of their course work to their own academic goals. All courses are taught by UIUC faculty or faculty recruited for their professional knowledge and experience in a particular area. Beyond academics, All students engage in numerous professional activities, including a chance to meet with members of D.C. Illini, who are all former Illini living and working in the D.C. area.
This course combines experiential learning, career development and writing. Class sessions and assignments enable students to analyze and reflect on their internship experience, engage in professional and career development, and develop and complete a reflection paper.
Through visits to think tanks, nonprofit organizations and agencies, we will examine the policymaking world in Washington and get to know different participants in this process, what they do, and how they interact and work to affect policy and express their ideas.
This course examines important issues that are relevant to government and public policy. In some semesters, it may focus on one specific public policy issue that is currently of particular interest or concern.
IIW participants are required to take a full 12 credit load during the Fall or Spring semester. However, we understand that for many of our students 12 political science credits limits their ability to make progress on their degree while participating in our program. As such, we will work with any student to find an applicable online UIUC course or independent study that will allow students to get the experience of interning in DC without preventing them from making progress on their degree.
Housing & Budget
Illinois in Washington currently houses students at the Washington Intern Housing Network. Located on I Street in H-Street Corridor near Union Station. The H-Street Corridor is the perfect combination of shopping, dining, and entertainment for years. Conveniently located near Metro rails and buses, this community fits right in for work and play.
Student housing is available starting approximately one week before you the start of the semester, and one week after the last class. You can arrive before the start of the program and remain after it concludes, but you may need to pay additional housing costs to WIHN.
In terms of paying for housing, IIW will pay for your housing at the beginning of the semester, and will bill you for the cost of that housing. You may pay the cost of housing that has been charged to your student account in any manner that would ordinarily be permitted for charges to your student account.
WIHN apartments are fully furnished, including pots, pans, and utensils. WIHN does ask that you bring the following:
- Bed Linens for a standard twin size bed
- Bath towels and toiletries
See the WIHN Guide (http://thewihn.com/standard-items-list/) for additional information about is provided in each of the apartments. Please remember that most offices in Washington, DC, will expect you to wear business, or business casual, attire at work.
Your move-in packet, key, and room assignment are available from the front desk at your apartment building. Please email WIHN at email@example.com prior to your arrival in Washington, DC, to let them know when you will be arriving so they can have your move-in ma
Tuition and Fees
Because IIW is a University of Illinois program, program tuition is the same as regular campus tuition, which can be looked up here. Your student account will be billed for tuition, fees, and housing. You can pay that account off in the manner you would ordinarily pay amounts charged to your student account. You can apply for the same financial aid as you if you were taking courses on the main campus. Often, the Political Science Department and IIW will offer small fellowships and stipends on a competitive basis.
While in IIW, your school fees are somewhat less because only the general fee (and, if applicable, the health insurance fee), are required and the University waives all of your on-campus fees. However, there is a $1000 program fee for Illinois in Washington.
Books and Supplies
Fewer books and academic supplies are required than on campus.
Housing and Living Expenses
Housing and living expenses are higher than on campus. Housing is in shared apartments or a group house provided by WIHN. Currently, students live together in shared apartments on Capitol Hill within easy walking distance from Congress, Union Station and the subway. Housing costs $4,500 per semester.
If you are on financial aid, you may apply for additional loan amounts to cover these costs. IIW can provide you with a budget to submit to financial aid. If you have any questions about how your financial aid may work with this program, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid.
The tuition for IIW is the same as the cost for classes offered at the main campus. You must pay a $1000 IIW course fee, but you will not have to pay the roughly $1300 in campus fees that you would pay for attending class on the main campus. The cost of living is somewhat higher in Washington, DC than in Illinois. Below is a rough estimate of semester costs.
- Tuition: the same tuition as main campus enrollment (a tuition calculator available at https://cost.illinois.edu/ can help you calculate the cost)
- Course Fee: you will be charge a $1000 IIW course fee, but you will not be charged more than $1000 in campus fees associated with main campus enrollment
- WIHN housing: rent is roughly $4500 per semester in the fall and spring; there is also a $400 refundable security deposit, which will be refunded to you if you leave your apartment in good repair and return your apartment key
- Airfare: $200-500
- Meals: $700 to $2400
- Books and supplies: $50
- Local transportation: $250-500
- Personal expenses: $200 to $1500