Colorado Legislative Internship Program
The Colorado General Assembly is in session each year from early January to early May. Selected seniors and juniors travel to the Capitol each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the spring semester and function as interns for individual House and Senate members and occasionally for lobbyists. The internship experience varies, from student to student and from one legislator to another, but generally includes some research, communication with constituents, attendance at committee hearings, observation of chamber floor work, clerical and errand activity and more. Students are placed with their legislative sponsors by the internship program director; if students have legislator or political party preferences, efforts are made to accommodate them. Interns may be subject to a background check, as are all legislative employees and volunteers.
The internship carries a maximum of six upper division academic credits. Three of the six may count as credits required for the Political Science major. Interns who have not previously taken POLS 304, Legislative Politics, must enroll for that course as well.
Students have two internship options: (1) they may participate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, traveling back and forth to the capitol in university vans or (2) they may arrange alternative days and times, and travel in self-generated car pools or personal vehicles. Those with the all-day Tuesday-Thursday arrangement enroll for six academic credits (POLS 486A). For the others, the credit will vary according to the time arrangements, up to a maximum of six academic credits (POLS 486B).
Why Do This Internship?
Reasons past interns have given for doing this internship include the opportunity to expand on their exploration of political life by supplementing text and classroom exposure with real-life experience in a political institution; a chance to decide whether a future in elective office or politics generally suits their taste; an opportunity to make acquaintances and contacts with political operatives which may lead to employment; and simply a change of scenery and a senior-year break from an all on-campus semester.
Nine hundred students have experienced this internship and for many it has been a significant factor in their careers. Several have become legislators themselves. Many have become state-house lobbyists. A few have become staff members in Congress and in state legislatures. Others have gone on to law school. Universally they report the internship experience as a highlight of their college career.
Students from all majors may apply. It is good to have some social science or political science course background, but one need not be a Political Science major. Preference is given to graduating seniors, and then to juniors with excellent records. As good performance and absolute reliability are critical in the legislature, those qualities are paramount when considering applicants.
Students wishing to apply for this program may obtain an application form and application instructions from the Political Science Department office during the last week of September.
Assignments and Grading
Academic assignments include (1) maintenance of a daily journal; (2) completion of a semester-end paper; and (3) daily reading of legislative reporting in the printed news. Grading is by letter grade, plus-minus, and is based upon the quality of the journal and paper, appraisal by the legislators, attendance at any meeting called on campus or in the capitol, and reliability.
Schedule and Attendance
The internship begins in mid-January and runs to the end of the semester. campus at 7:20 am. and depart for home from the Capitol at 4:00 pm. In instances of bad weather and dangerous road conditions, we do not attempt the trip to Denver.
The performance and appearance of interns makes a statement about themselves and about Colorado State University. They must conduct themselves in responsible fashion, be courteous, dependable and prompt, and dress professionally. Similarly, they may expect others to treat them with courtesy and respect. While interns retain their rights of expression as citizens they may not, as per legislature rules, lobby, testify before committees or function as reporters.
Interns may travel in university vans, or provide their own transportation through self-generated car pools or personal vehicles. Those who travel in university vans pay a transportation fee.
For more information contact Dr. John Straayer