Frequently Asked Questions
1 . How is the Program organized?^
It is jointly administered by the Legislative Council of the Alaska State Legislature and representatives from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), and the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS).
UAS in Juneau has primary responsibility for the academic administration of the program. All stipends and relocation allowances are paid through UAS and all course credits are granted by UAS. Credit hours are easily transferred from UAS to the other two campuses. All three campuses participating in the program have campus coordinators.
2 . Do I have to be a political science major to apply?^
No--definitely not! The program recruits students from all academic disciplines. Past interns have come from a diverse range of majors including: business, criminal justice, economics, education, history, journalism, land management, Native studies, the natural sciences, public administration, social work and sociology, as well as from political science. The program also recruits students participating in the National Student Exchange Program and foreign exchange students.
3 . Who is eligible for the Program? ^
Those who meet the following five criteria:
- Are attending UAA, UAF or UAS at the time of application.
- Are registered, during the duration of the internship, in either a four year undergraduate degree program or a graduate degree program at any university in the U.S. or abroad. Students in two-year degree programs are eligible to apply but they must be in a four-year degree program at the time they start the internship. Students who have graduated or will do so before the internship begins and who do not intend to enter a graduate or other degree program before taking up the internship are not eligible to apply.
- Are of at least junior standing at the time of taking up the internship--completed at least sixty (60) credits. This means that you can be a second semester sophomore when you apply.
- Have taken at least one 3 credit course in political science during the five years prior to applying for the program.
- Have not held a paid position with the Alaska Legislature during the two years prior to applying for the program.
4 . What if I’m interested but not yet eligible to apply?^
Then plan to incorporate the program into your degree at a later date. In preparing for the program be sure to take some political science courses. You should also develop your writing skills and obtain experience in conducting research. Your campus program coordinator will be most willing to give you further advice on preparing for the internship.
5 . What do Interns do in the Legislature?^
All interns work in the office of a legislator--a Representative or a Senator. But they don’t just do clerical work. Generally, interns do similar work to legislative aides including: answering constituent mail, researching bills, attending committee hearings; and some are given responsibility for pieces of legislation and may give testimony before committees.
6 . How many hours per week is the Internship and how long does it last? ^
The Legislative Internship is a full-time position running for the entire 90 day legislative session and the week prior to the session. It begins in early January and ends in mid-April, a period similar in length to the spring semester. You work for an average of 35 hours a week for a total of 490 hours for the fourteen weeks. Some legislative offices will require that you work more than 35 hours per week.
7 . Can I work part of the session, work part-time, or work in a legislative office outside of Juneau and still be in the Program?^
No you cannot. You have to work the full 35 hours per week and full-time each weekday for the entire session and be placed in a legislative office in Juneau.
8 . How many credit hours do I get and in what discipline?^
Interns receive 12 hours of upper division credit. Nine of these credits are for the placement in the legislative office and are graded Pass/Fail only. The other 3 credits are for the Internship Seminar and are graded A-F. These are political science credits. But these credits can be given other designations that the student’s advisor and the Statewide Program Coordinator work out in advance of the student’s internship.
9 . How much do I get paid and do I get moving expenses?^
You’ll receive a stipend of $5,000 (which is taxable) paid in four monthly installments. Plus, except for Juneau students, you’ll get an allowance to cover travel (airfare or ferry) and relocation expenses.
10 . Where can I get an application packet?^
From your campus coordinator who can also give you advice about the internship, lend you a video about the program, and put you in touch with former interns who can tell you how the program really works! All campus coordinators are listed in the answer to question 20 below.
11 . Why can’t I apply on-line?^
Because you have to turn in several supporting documents with your application and then arrange to take an impromptu essay test to include with your application packet.
12 . Do all who apply get accepted?^
No. This is partly because there are only 10 slots in the program (3 each for UAA and UAF; 2 for UAS; and 1 each for APU and UU). Also because, in order to maximize both their contribution in the Legislature and the educational benefit from the internship, only those students with the necessary background and skills are chosen for the program.
13 . Who selects the interns and what criteria do they use?^
The top applicants are interviewed on their campus by a selection committee composed of program faculty and usually former interns and representatives from the legislature. In selecting interns the committee gives preference to those with good academic records and good written and oral communication skills plus an interest in politics and government.
Results of the selection process are announced by November 1, or the following Monday if that date falls on a weekend.
14 . Who decides which legislator’s office I work in?^
Interns have a great deal of choice in where they work. The University does not place interns in offices; rather it acts as a facilitator to bring interns and legislators together. Once chosen, interns receive information about legislators interested in the program; and legislators receive information about the students chosen as interns. Then, legislators and interns are free to contact each other to work out an internship arrangement.
15 . Isn’t it hard to find housing in Juneau and isn’t it expensive?^
Not really! In all the years of the program no student has ever failed to find a place to live! Juneau rentals are about the same as Fairbanks and about 5% more than Anchorage. The legislature keeps a list of available housing; and legislative staff can often provide leads on housing. Student housing at UAS is also available.
16 . How does the seminar work?^
There is a four-day orientation focusing on the legislative process prior to the beginning of the legislative session. Then, there are seven bi-weekly three-hour seminars. At these seminars interns share their learning experiences and present papers on various topics related to the legislative process. A total of five pieces of written work are required for the seminar. Several guests--including legislators, legislative aides, members of the governor’s staff, agency personnel, court system personnel, lobbyists and journalists--come to the seminars to provide practical insights.
17 . Have former interns found the program advantageous?^
Tremendously advantageous! The vast majority will tell you that it was the experience of their life--both academically and in terms of enjoying a practical, working experience. More than sixty have gone back to work in the legislature, gotten jobs in state, federal or local government based on their internship, or used it to help get into grad school or advance their career prospects. Two former interns, Tom Brice and Mary Nelson, have been elected to the legislature and several others have run for political office.
The class of 1991 made a video about their experiences that you can borrow from your campus coordinator. Your campus coordinator and the Statewide Program Coordinator can also put you in touch with former interns who will give you their first-hand experiences and impressions of the program.
18 . Who is the Statewide Program Coordinator and where can I contact him?^
Statewide Program Coordinator
University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK 99801
Your campus coordinator can provide you with further information. Or contact the Statewide Program Coordinator. He will pass your inquiry on to your campus coordinator and place you on the mailing list for announcements about up-coming program promotion and deadlines.