The Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah runs one of the nation’s oldest internship programs. Each year, the Hinckley Institute places nearly 400 students locally, nationally, and globally in a wide range of government, nonprofit, think tank, and business organizations. For five decades, the Institute has championed the learning outcomes of engaging multidisciplinary students in civic processes and practical politics.

Over the past ten years, the Hinckley Institute’s internship program has experienced significant expansion and refinement. The Institute has actively adjusted its internship model to tie academic theory to practice, to offer substantive placements in the most salient areas, and to provide students with career-launching networks and experiences. 

In 2003, the Hinckley Institute worked with the Political Science chair to strengthen the academic rigor of the internship curriculum. The Institute accordingly changed the course requirements from a shorter “internship experience” paper to a longer, more substantive, APA research paper.

Over the last two years, the Hinckley Institute has further honed its internship model, curriculum, and assessments in response to significant published research. Data from various studies has revealed the importance of internships in preparing university students to enter the workforce. However, additional data has demonstrated student difficulty in articulating experiential learning outcomes in relation to their academic path and future career prospects.

Accordingly, the Hinckley Institute has revamped its internship curriculum to include a multipronged approach including not only the substantive academic research paper, but also a series of assignments and trainings focused on tying education to practice and professional development.

The Hinckley Institute’s internship curriculum now targets six learning outcomes through multi-faceted assessments.

The Hinckley Institute & the University of Utah's Four Strategic Goals

Promote Student Success to Transform Lives

Opportunities for all students

A Hinckley internship is a unique academic opportunity that empowers undergraduate and graduate students of all disciplines to step out of the classroom and gain real-world experience—along with academic credit. The Hinckley Institute of Politics places more than 300 students every year in local, state, national, and global internships. Click here to view host offices by discipline.

Placement Support

Unlike most internship programs where students are required to set up their own internships, the Hinckley Institute draws on its hundreds of prestigious host office contacts to secure students the best fit. Our program managers work tirelessly to strengthen and distribute every internship application and we continually work with students to establish new host office opportunities.


The Hinckley Institute boasts one of the nation's longest-standing DC internship programs, dating back to 1965. Most university-run Washington, DC, internship programs charge students thousands of dollars to participate in their programs. The Hinckley Institute, however, has forged a program where a student’s financial status should not inhibit his or her ability to serve.  Accordingly, the Hinckley interest guarantees students a national leading MINIMUM scholarship of approximately $850/month to cover living expenses. In addition, the Hinckley Institute heavily subsidizes housing costs. (Total rent cost is $800/month, the HIP covers $400/month and charges the student $400/month). National interns are also eligible for low-interest loan funding. 


Most global internship programs are fielded through private entities, which dramatically increases the price point. The Hinckley Institute forges independent ties with host offices across the globe in order to keep global internships affordable for students. Global interns are also eligible for scholarship and low-interest loan funding. 

Develop and Transfer New Knowledge

Hands on Experience and Research Opportunities

The Hinckley Institute of Politics internship program is designed to help students connect academic studies from all majors to practical work experience in the areas of government, politics, non-profit work, and current affairs. Internships will allow students to develop professional skills, gain hands-on experience, and evaluate career opportunities. Ultimately, students will gain a greater understanding of how their academic field intersects with policy by experiencing the workings of politically related organizations locally, nationally, or internationally. Each internship culminates with intensive policy research related to the student's internship. Additionally, the Hinckley Institute publishes the Hinckley Journal of Politics, the only undergraduate-run journal of politics in the nation. The Hinckley Journal of Politics provides students the opportunity to publish their undergraduate research and provides publishing experience to its student editors and editorial board.

Engage Communities to Improve Health and Quality of Life


The Hinckley Institute is deeply involved in the local community. Each year, the Hinckley sends approximately 130 students to a wide variety of campaign, government, and non-profit organizations in the Salt Lake City area. In addition to our robust local program, the Hinckley Institute is engaged within the local community through initiatives including Real Women Run, the U.N. Women's Utah Chapter, the annual Huntsman Seminar for Teachers, Youth Voting Initiative, and Count My Vote. 

Nationally and globally, Hinckley interns have contributed thousands of hours of work to more than 500 non-profits, governments, and communities thereby helping to shape change in the public health, education, government, social, and business sectors. 

Ensure the Long-Term Viability of the University

The Hinckley Institute of Politics assures the long-term stature of the University of Utah by ensuring students not only graduate in a timely manner, but graduate with outstanding work experience. This allows university students who have participated with the Hinckley to be well prepared for a competitive job market. Former Hinckley Interns go on to become local and national leaders, prestigious academics, successful lawyers, catalysts for social change, and engaged members of their communities—frequently giving back to the University of Utah through critical mentorships and donations. Alumni data dating back to 1965 shows that 10% of Hinckley alumni will run for political office. Even more will go on to leadership roles within the university and community which ensures the long-term viability of the university.


More details about specific assignments and requirements can be found in the course syllabus.

1.       Integrate academic theory with practice:

Correlating Assignments: 

  • Assignment 3: Research paper proposal
  • Research paper following APA formatting

“My experience at the Utah Rivers Council enriched my skill set by applying what I had learned in my classes. I managed to uses some of my statistical and economics education to help with Utah Rivers Council’s projects .” —Hinckley Intern

"My internship in Costa Rica was the culminating experience of my university education. My internship cemented and built upon prior environmental research and Spanish skills that I had gained in Utah while making a real impact with my host office and building global partnerships." —Hinckley Intern

2.       Demonstrate professional development:

Correlating Assignments:

  • Professional application and interview for pre-internship placement process
  • Assignment 1: Establish internship job description and goals with host office supervisor
  • Assignment 4: Rewrite resume, draft answers to mock interview
  • Post-internship professional training: practicing "elevator speech" in order to articulate learning outcomes from internship, discussing how to establish and use personal and professional networks. 

“As an intern, I have pioneered the nation’s first white collar crime registry. Throughout the development of the white collar crime registry, I have acquired strengths and learned how to interpret legal and judicial words, procedure, documents, and structure that I otherwise would not know.”—Hinckley Intern

"I’m happy to say that I accomplished the goals I set out in my first reflection. My analytical and research skills developed, I gained real world macroeconomic experience, my written and verbal communication improved, and I increased my appreciation and understanding for our own political system. While I have enjoyed my previous work history, this was the first time I was able to focus on my own personal growth, learn about the things that are important to me, and find a happy medium where I was adding value to the internship site."— Hinckley Intern

3.       Exhibit civic and political engagement:     

Correlating Assignments:

  • Assignment 2: Read selected chapters from Robert H. Hinckley: Getting to Know Him. Reflect on broader government concepts and future career goals that involve civic engagement regardless of future field of work

Hinckley Intern Civic Engagement vs. Nat'l Average

THE IMPACT OF HINCKLEY INTERNSHIPS ON POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT (2004) Executive Summary Courtney H. McBeth, Thesis for M.S. in Education based on survey data of Hinckley Alumni dating back to 1965.

4.       Synthesize internship experience:

Correlating Assignments: 

  • Assignment 4: Rewrite resume, draft answers to mock interview
  • Assignment 5: Student evaluation of internship
  • Post-internship professional training: practicing "elevator speech" in order to articulate learning outcomes from internship, discussing how to establish and use personal and professional networks 
“I appreciated the assignments and reflection papers because they provided the opportunity for me to actually reflect on learning objectives and goals of my internship.”—Hinckley Intern

“I know that employers always want to hire people who have on the job experience and by having this internship on my resume I can now show them that I already have some of that desired experience.”—Hinckley Intern

5.       Implement improved writing skills across multiple genres:

Correlating Assignments: 

  • Assignment 1: Establish internship job description and goals with host office supervisor 
  • Assignment 2: Read selected chapters from Robert H. Hinckley: Getting to Know Him. Reflect on broader government concepts and future career goals that involve civic engagement regardless of future field of work
  • Assignment 3: Research paper proposal
  • Assignment 4: Rewrite resume, draft answers to mock interview
  • Assignment 5: Student evaluation of internship
  • Research paper following APA formatting
"[Hinckley Intern] has written many pieces that have been published online and in print and has several more that will be published in upcoming editions of the Diplomatic Courier. I believe he has amassed a great writing portfolio while he has been with us in this short period." —Anna Rold, Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. 

“The majority of my work was based in the Salt Lake office where I spent time researching and writing briefs on various programs that could improve the assistance we provide to our families. This allowed me to improve writing and research skills that are crucial for my field.”—Hinckley Intern

6.       Demonstrate increased global and intercultural competency (global interns only):

Correlating Assignments: 

  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Weekly emails with program manager
  • Post-internship debriefing with program manager
“I think the biggest take home message I will bring back with me is unequal opportunity. I was born and raised into opportunity and have taken advantage of every chance I get to learn more and better myself. Others, however, don’t have the same opportunities as do I and most likely never will. It’s discerning to think of the inequalities that exist here in South Africa, but I am leaving with more hope and courage in my heart that I can make it better rather than worse.”—Hinckley Intern
“I learned how to adapt and live in a foreign country. Through cultural experiences and community integration, I learned how to live and engage in an unfamiliar place. Additionally, I learned how to prepare and educate junior high students about public health topics. Being culturally sensitive is very important and in order to be sensitive I had to be proactive to learn and ask a lot of questions.”—Hinckley Intern

Jordan Pilot Study

Key Findings:

  • 73% of respondents indicated their perceptions about Islam changed during their Hinckley Internship
  • 92% of respondents felt their internship experience built positive interactions/understanding between the United States and Middle East
  • 75% of respondents answered that they felt "more hopeful" for understanding between the United States and Middle East after their Hinckley Internship
  •  92% of respondents maintain contact with people they met during their Hinckley Internship in Jordan

The Hinckley Institute works with students extensively before, during, and after their internship to help them succeed both academically and professionally. The timeline a Hinckley Internship can be seen below.