Political Studies department develops internship opportunity

Politics professor says ‘experiential learning isn’t just a description’ 

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Professor Stephen Larin talked about the opportunities available to students.

Professor Stephen Larin sat down with The Journal to discuss Queen’s brand-new internship opportunity that will run as a Political Studies course.

Larin became the faculty coordinator of the internship program this May, with internships beginning in the 2023 winter semester. The program will act as a course titled POLS 598, which students receive credits for on a pass or fail basis.

“It was decided collectively among the department that it was something we wanted to do and something our students have expressed interest in,” Larin said. “My job over the past few months is to figure out what the program would look like in specific details and recruit the partners.”

Larin confirmed 22 official partners and 36 placements among those partners, with some partners offering more than one placement. For instance, the City of Kingston has seven different placements, each one in a different department.

There are approximately ten additional partners that plan to participate in future iterations of the program, Larin added.

“We’re limiting the program to 20 students in the winter term this year as a kind of trial-run, but it is intended to be a permanent part of our curriculum.”

The department plans to increase the number of students who are allocated positions in subsequent years, both in the fall and winter terms, if there’s high demand. Larin said the department is working to ensure the opportunity is known to students.

“The undergraduate administrative assistant distributed the announcement to all political studies students via email. I asked my colleagues to think about any students they think will be a good fit for one of the partners.”

Larin’s goal is for everyone in the department to know about the opportunity within the next week.

“The placements available are very diverse. There is purely political work (City Hall and Kingston Hall) and there is also a range of non-governmental organizations (Loving Spoonful, Rotary Club, among others) so the type of opportunities will depend on the type of organization.”

The only criteria to apply for the course is to be in third or fourth year, be a Political Studies major, Political Studies joint-honours student, or in the Political Studies stream of the PPE program, and have a minimum of 3.3 GPA across all Politics courses. 

“Once we choose our twenty students, they undergo a random lottery system. The person in first place gets their first preference of internship, and so on,” Larin said.

“Immediately after the allocation to partners is done, I will contact the students who have been granted their placement and then they contact the partner to talk about the work plan, do a police check [if necessary].” 

Larin said the threshold for applying is relatively high and students who are successful in their application should be good students who are highly competent and have good communication skills.

If a student isn’t a good fit for the organization, they will be reallocated to a different organization on their preference list. 

According to Larin, the internship course will start with an orientation and then move into class meetings, weekly reflections, a presentation, and a final report based on the students’ experiences.

One of the most crucial aspects of this internship is the professional relationships developed.

“Social capital is the resources available to you due to the relationships you have—this opens up opportunities,” Larin said. “Building those professional relationships is one of the most important things when it comes to these organizations.”

Larin added the Political Studies department is trying to break the cycle of needing experience to get experience which, according to him, is an opportunity barrier.

“Experiential learning isn’t just a description—it also includes reflection on how that experience relates to your studies, theories, and broad conceptualizations that are part of those studies.”

Larin added the program is collaborative across disciplines.

“I just signed an agreement with a team of five talented fourth-year Computing and Information Science students who will design and create an internship management system for us as their final-year project in CISC 498.”


Canadian politics, internship

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