Header Image for Basic Page

You are here


Why do all Public Policy Studies majors complete an internship?

The internship is a culmination of all of your core coursework and gives you a chance to see how the skills you have acquired in these classes apply in a real world context. It also gives you a chance to gain exposure to different parts of the policy field and helps you on your way to finding a job post-graduation.

We believe the core courses teach the skills and critical thinking necessary to gain the most from the internship experience. A student must complete all the core classes (PPS 155, 301, 302, 303 and Stats 101) to receive credit for an internship that counts toward the completion of a major in public policy. The internship is not meant to be something that students check off on their way to graduation, but a culminating synthesis of course work and other PPS-related experiences.

The Career Services staff helps you through the internship process. As soon as you declare a Public Policy major, create an account at Sanford Career Link to stay informed of opportunities, workshops, and requirements. 

Highlight for Basic Page

  • Shandiin Herrera standing at podium

    Gaining Knowledge, Applying Skills in D.C.

    "My favorite part of my internship, which was working with Senator Udall’s staff on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the hearing regarding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, legislation that greatly impacts my tribe (Navajo)." —Shandiin Herrera PPS'19 Udall Native American Congressional Intern, Senator Tom Udall (NM). Read more about Shandiin Herrera

Many of our alumni look back fondly at their internship as a unique experience to explore a new place and organization while also gaining essential real world experience and new contacts. For some, internships are defining moments in their undergraduate careers, giving them direction for the next stage in their lives.

What types of internships qualify?

The important thing is that there is clear public policy relevant activity and content in the internship. Some internships will emphasize the things learned in one or two of the core courses more.It doesn't matter if it is a publicly or privately funded enterprise or if it is paid or unpaid (paid is obviously better for the student, but it isn't necessary). For example, the internship would qualify if a student worked at a non-profit organization or an Internet startup company that was looking at alternative energy sources and dealing with government regulation of environmental policy. But, it would not qualify if the student worked in consulting, investment banking or marketing. It is the substance of the work that matters most.

Examples of the wide variety of organizations where our students have interned include:

  • US Department of State
  • US Agency for International Development
  • The White House
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • WGBH TV/Radio
  • Microsoft 
  • VOX Global
  • Asia Society
  • National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism
  • Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence

Full lists of past internships are offered to majors in Sanford Career Link so you can see places where Duke already has employer and/or alumni connections. 

Diego Quezada, PPS'15“My internship experience was terrific. The help that the Career Services staff provided to get me there was invaluable — they worked with me to improve my résumé and cover letter, connected me with students who completed internships at places I considered, and practiced with me in interview scenarios. Without a doubt, I only managed to secure an internship at the Center for American Progress with their help.”—Diego Quezada, PPS'15

Read more about Diego's internship experience.


How to land your dream internship in 12 easy steps.