Internship Matching Process

Internship Matching Process

: Help Students Understand the Process

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The Washington Center works hard to provide internship opportunities closely tailored to students’ interests. Because internship sites often wait until a couple months before a term to determine their needs, there may be a gap between program acceptance and internship placement.


Though this process maximizes students’ opportunities and overall satisfaction with their match, the time required sometimes leads to some anxiety. As a liaison, you can be very helpful by explaining the process and the timelines. There are five steps to The Washington Center’s tailored internship matching process. Timelines are different for each student and depend on the credentials of the student as well as the needs of the internship sites.


Five Steps to a Tailored Internship Step One

Applications are reviewed for admission to the program. Once accepted, students are assigned to an internship advisor. Students receive a message asking them to schedule a time for an initial advising session (held over the phone or via Skype) shortly after acceptance. The internship advisor will get to know the student on a deeper level and record information about his or her internship preferences and goals for the experience. TWC's site relations team will send out referrals to carefully selected organizations that have opportunities available that match the student's interests and background (usually three to five initially, with more added as needed).


Step Two

Supervisors at potential internship sites review the materials for each student sent to them. Remember, applications are sent to several sites and students may be in competition with other interns for the same opportunity. Likewise, however, internship sites know they may be in competition with other organizations for talented and outstanding individuals. In some instances, the office will select its candidates based on the application alone. A number of internship sites (including the Department of State and the White House) may require additional applications or materials.


Step Three

If the internship site wants to speak further with a student, the supervisor calls the student directly for a phone interview. In some instances, they will arrange an interview later, or they may question the student on the spot. If another time is scheduled, students should ensure they set a time when they won’t be interrupted. Students should also prepare questions to ask the supervisor. The accepted students section of TWC’s website includes tips for a successful interview, and TWC staff provide webinars and mock interviews to help students prepare. If you need the login details for this site, please let us know.


Step Four

It is important that students discuss all internship offers with their internship advisor at TWC before making a decision. If a reasonable amount of time has passed and they do not get an offer, students should discuss this with their internship advisor, as well. Additional opportunities may need to be explored. The final decision is always the student’s and he or she shouldn’t feel pressured to take a position that is not related to his or her interests.


Step Five

Finally, the student selects his or her preferred internship and confirms the choice with both the internship site and internship advisor at TWC. It is the student’s responsibility to accept and reject offers. It is not necessary to receive more than one offer before deciding upon an internship. Often the first offer is entirely satisfactory. If not, we will continue to investigate other internship opportunities. Once an offer is accepted, referrals will cease and students should not take additional interviews.

Arriving in D.C. Without An Internship

In a small number of cases (particularly in the summer), an internship site may not be confirmed until shortly after arrival in Washington, D.C. In these cases, one or more in-person interviews will usually be arranged by the time the student checks in.

Background Checks & Security Clearances

On rare occasions, background checks for certain agencies may not be completed in time for students to start their internships on the first day of the semester or term. An academic program advisor will work closely with the student and monitor the situation on a daily basis, and he or she should keep the campus liaison informed of the situation. The Washington Center cannot be responsible for these delays, and it is up to the student and you to determine how long you are willing to wait for clearance. In the rare situations where the clearance may take more than 1 or 2 weeks, we expect students to develop an active learning plan to take advantage of the resources of Washington, D.C., while they await clearance.

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