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.