The Harrisburg Internship Semester (T.H.I.S.)
T.H.I.S. might be for you!
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) sponsors a semester-long (either fall or spring) internship program for outstanding undergraduate students from the 14 PASSHE universities. Typically, students just like you work as interns with selected professionals and legislators in various state government offices.
You would participate directly in public policy formulation, analysis, and evaluation. Your work experience will include report and speech writing, research, and direct involvement with program initiation, implementation, and evaluation. Recent SRU interns have worked in the Department of Public Welfare, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Many interns have accepted policy or research positions in state government upon graduation. Most recently, SRU environmental science major Abbey Cadden, who interned in the Department of Environmental Protection in the spring of 2015, was hired into a permanent position in the Policy Office.
Are You Eligible?
Interns may come from any academic major and are chosen through procedures determined on each campus. In order to apply, you must have earned at least 45 undergraduate credits and have a 3.0 or higher grade point average at the time of application. You must also be degree-seeking student.
Can You Receive Academic Credit?
You will have the opportunity to earn 15 credit hours toward your undergraduate degree consistent with the policies of your home university and major department. Upon successful completion of the internship, your grades will be included in your quality point average and made part of your academic transcript.
The 15 credit hours includes:
9 credit hours for the internship itself
3 credit hours for the completion of a rigorous academic seminar
3 credit hours for a research project involving substantial data analysis (decided on with input from your internship supervisor and Dr. Jonathan B. Smith, the Director of the program in Harrisburg)
When Are Application Materials Due? What Should You Include?
You must submit the following materials electronically to
Dr. Sharon Sykora, Campus Coordinator, by October 10, 2016:
A completed application form
(click here for application) A letter of application/interest
Two letters of recommendation from faculty members
A writing sample (a short paper, at least 3-5 pages)
A current copy of your DARs
What Will You Do During the Internship?
The internship program will provide you with a meaningful professional assignment as well as an enriching academic experience. Interns participate directly in public policy formulation, analysis, and evaluation. Their work experience includes report and speech writing, research, and direct involvement with program initiation, implementation, and evaluation. You would also participate in an internship seminar that meets at the Dixon University Center and is supervised by Dr. Jonathan B. Smith, the Director of the program in Harrisburg.
The seminar will integrate your work experience with a rigorous academic component.
The seminar will expose you to the latest scholarship on public policy formation and includes elements of the legislative process, executive operations, decision-making, governmental budgeting, public personnel administration, and more specialized state government topics.
Each semester leading policymakers from the Commonwealth address the seminar and participate in roundtable discussions with students just like you. The Secretary of Environmental Protection might well describe the department's involvement in addressing global warming and other initiatives. The Governor's policy chief could describe the process of developing major initiatives within the upper levels of administration. Lobbyists for various interest groups may speak about their profession and the issues for which they advocate.
A regular feature of the seminar is having alumni of the program who are working in state government talk about their career paths.
Under the guidance of the faculty director, Dr. Jonathan B. Smith, you will integrate the contribution of policy makers with the academic components of the seminar. Dr. Smith will assign readings, writing assignments, lead discussions and other activities which will augment the learning in the seminar.
Where Will You Intern?
To find out where you will be interning, you will participate in Interview Day. It takes place during the semester preceding the internship. Typically, in the fall Interview Day is sometime in November (for the spring semester internship). In the spring, Interview Day is typically in April (for the fall semester internship). You will probably interview with at least three offices and then a matching procedure is completed by Dr. Jonathan B. Smith, the Director of the program in Harrisburg.
You should be aware that successful participation in Interview Day should not be read by you to mean that you are guaranteed the internship. That determination is made only by the University President. Notification by the University President must occur before you are a T.H.I.S. intern.
Do You Get a Stipend?
You will receive a stipend to help pay for the costs of room, board, and tuition. The stipend is currently $5,500 before taxes for the spring semester 2017. This will be enough money to cover the cost of tuition on your home campus and cover a portion of your housing costs. There are ways to stretch the stipend to go further. For example, you could share housing with another T.H.I.S. intern.
Who Do You Talk To About T.H.I.S.?
You should talk to your Campus Coordinator. Dr. Cheryl Norton has designated Dr. Sharon Sykora in the Department of Political Science to serve as Campus Coordinator. She has developed campus procedures for recruitment, along with the process for reviewing and recommending prospective student interns.
You must confer with Dr. Sykora prior to turning in your application. Her full contact information is as follows: 724-738-2431 (office phone) firstname.lastname@example.org 104D Vincent. If selected for T.H.I.S., you would be formally appointed to the internship by Dr. Cheryl Norton, SRU President. The list of Campus Coordinators for all the State System schools can be found on the T.H.I.S. website at www.passhe.edu/this.