Center for Politics
Student Internships Program

Announcing a Joint Public-Sector Summer Internship Opportunity

Application Deadline: May 15, 2020


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic many University students have lost their previously-planned public-sector summer internships. In an effort to help with the problem, many of the University’s public-sector units including the UVA Center for Politics, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Miller Center, and the Weldon Cooper Center/Sorensen Institute have teamed together to offer a first-of-its-kind virtual public-sector, paid summer internship program.

Utilizing emergency funding provided by the Larry J. Sabato Foundation and the Peter and Eaddo Kiernan Foundation with additional support from McGuireWoods Consulting, this educational opportunity provides students with the ability to work individually and collectively on some of the biggest problems facing the country and the world today in the wake of the global pandemic.  How we, as a society, address the many important questions surrounding the crisis could impact government here and around the world.

Through this innovative program, students will gain hands-on experience and will have access to additional resources, such as webinars with policymakers, non-profit leaders, and other guests.


The program will be open to currently enrolled UVA undergraduate students (rising Second, Third and Fourth-Year students) who have lost public sector internships and related summer employment opportunities as a result of the pandemic. The University program will consist of 50 students, each assigned to one of four public-sector units of the University including the Center for Politics; the Miller Center/Democracy Initiative; the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; and the Weldon Cooper Center/Sorensen Institute.

The Center for Politics: The University of Virginia Center for Politics is the nation’s preeminent institution for the study and promotion of civics education and political participation. Founded in 1998 by University Professor Larry J. Sabato, the mission of the Center for Politics is to educate and inspire the public to actively engage in practical politics and other civic affairs through programs that are unique, compelling, and open-minded.

Interns at the Center for Politics would work across four major areas specifically focused on challenges facing society in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic including facilitating better voter registration and voter participation in the November election; national civic instruction; the global impact of the pandemic on democratic institutions worldwide; and practical political effects of the pandemic on public campaigns and elections. 

The Miller Center: The Miller Center is a national, nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges. Our scholars engage in research and writing that provides unparalleled insight into contemporary public policy debates. We are the sole source in the country of the oral histories of each presidential administration since Jimmy Carter’s, and the annotated transcripts of the secret White House recordings made by Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

Interns at the Miller Center would work across departments to help support projects and research initiatives related to governance challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. These projects may include: research about historical election that took place during crises, presidential decision making during national and international crises, or the pandemic’s effect on democracies around the world; researching first and fifth year presidential transitions; building out audience lists; completing transcriptions; original research projects using Miller Center oral history transcript; among other projects. The successful applicant will be able to work independently, have a positive attitude, and have strong written and verbal communication skills.  

The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service/Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership: The Cooper Center serves leaders across the Commonwealth and beyond by combining decades of knowledge about government, communities, and the people of Virginia with contemporary and advanced research, analytical expertise, and focused training for high performance. The Center brings together expertise in economic, demographic, and survey research, and leadership development.

The Cooper Center’s internships will be focused in the Sorensen Institute, which has established itself as a force for restoring public confidence in our political system. Alumni from Sorensen’s programs are engaged in governing and politics on the federal, state, and local levels, including three current or former Members of Congress, Governor Northam, 27 General Assembly members, three Virginia Cabinet Secretaries, and elected officials and decision makers across the Commonwealth. Sorensen’s mission promotes three central themes: ethics in public service, the power of bipartisan cooperation, and a concentrated study of public policy issues.

Interns at the Sorensen Institute will engage in a concentrated study of how policy happens at the state level. They will work together to analyze key issues affecting the Commonwealth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the leadership challenges involved. They will engage with key Commonwealth policy makers, develop policy analysis and drafting skills, and make formal policy recommendations that will be shared with Virginia leaders. Interns will benefit from mentorship opportunities with Sorensen alumni.

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy: At the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, we are committed to solving the world’s toughest policy challenges. We know the complex issues of our time demand innovative, collaborative, cross-sector relationships within our walls and beyond. Our multidisciplinary approach to problem solving and emphasis on ethics reinforce our focus on how leadership works, why context matters in decision-making, and which actions lead to tangible results. We also know a preeminent, forward-looking leadership and public policy school will only flourish in an environment that includes individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, and we are committed to becoming an inclusive, welcoming and supportive community.

Interns at the Frank Batten School will work with our various departments to help develop a program to create and foster a vibrant and active student community that promotes student success and inclusiveness. With the transition to online instruction, and the likelihood that at least a portion of our student body and faculty/staff will be remote again this fall, we’re looking to develop coordinated online and in-person programming and activities that result in an enhanced sense of belonging. Our goals are to increase student engagement and strengthen their emotional connection to the Frank Batten School and our greater community, whether from afar or here on Grounds.


Programming criteria and internship requirements will vary by participating units, but students may be tasked with submitting a final project such as a white paper and/or a digital exhibit and/or a digital conference (open to the public) on themes to be assigned at the unit level.

Student interns will work with supervising units to assist in specific unit-level projects and will also assemble virtually four times weekly on designated days for, hour-long, day-specific educational programming for all participants.


Week one: Orientation

Weeks two – five: Students work with assigned units on unit-level programming while also assembling virtually four times weekly for group interactions and other public-sector lectures and forums. 


Early May: Call for applications/selection

Mid-May: Decisions announced

Late-June – July: Internship program dates


Each student selected for the program will receive a $2,000 stipend for the five-week internship payable as a stipend at the end of the program.


To apply please download the attached application below and return along with a copy of your resume to  Deadline for submission is Friday, May 15, 2020.

Download Summer Internship application here

PLAP 3370

An internship at the Center for Politics offers students the opportunity to gain practical business and political experience. Students completing internships during the fall or spring semester receive course credit IF enrolled in PLAP 3370. PLAP 3370 will be offered in the spring/ fall semesters and requires instructor permission for enrollment.  All intern applicants (regardless of term) are required to submit the following application.  

Completing this application DOES NOT constitute automatic enrollment in PLAP 3370. You will be informed of your enrollment status in PLAP 3370 after submitting the application. Applications for internships at the Center for Politics are accepted on a rolling basis.

Download PLAP 3370 application here

PLAP 4360

PLAP 4360 (Campaigns and Elections) is an advanced-level undergraduate class available only via instructor permission and course registration through the UVA Student Information System (SIS).  The course offers students an opportunity to study campaigns and elections from the perspective(s) of a candidate for public office and his/her staff. The objectives of the class are to provide students with a better understanding of the evolution of political campaigns, campaign strategies and political parties in the United States. The course examines how candidates interact with the electorate, as students explore (via a mock campaign for public office) some common effects of interest groups on political campaigns; the processes of image-making in public campaigns; widely-used methods of influencing public perception of candidates and campaigns; and other regular challenges and requirements that confront candidates and campaigns leading up to, and during a typical campaign for public office.

Download PLAP 4360 application here