Center for Politics Launches Virtual Internship for Students Who Lost Summer Jobs

hundred of various campaign buttons

Among other projects, interns could virtually contribute to the Center for Politics’ analysis of the 2020 presidential election. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

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As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, University Professor of Politics Larry Sabato kept thinking about the University of Virginia politics students who were anticipating internships and summer jobs – perhaps working on the campaign trail, interning with their state senator or mayor, or working restaurant or retail jobs to help fund their next year of school.

Many of those jobs have dried up, taking away not only financial resources, but also valuable springboards that help students launch careers in public service and politics. 

“I don’t want that pipeline to fall apart,” said Sabato, who directs UVA’s Center for Politics. “I want to give students some encouragement, some opportunity to stay involved in the public sector, serve their communities and find some stimulating work.”

And so, Sabato and the Center for Politics have teamed with several public service-focused departments at UVA – including the Miller Center for Public Affairs, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the UVA Career Center – to quickly design and launch a five-week virtual summer internship program.

Running in June and July, the program will provide a $2,000 stipend to as many as 50 UVA students, who will work remotely on projects at the various centers and take part in virtual seminars on different aspects of public service, with politicians and other special guests participating via videoconference.

The program is funded entirely by private donations, including emergency funding provided by the Larry J. Sabato Foundation and the Peter and Eaddo Kiernan Foundation. Additional support for the student stipends is also being provided by McGuireWoods Consulting and other private donors.

The internship is open to rising second-, third-, and fourth-year UVA students who have lost summer jobs or internships due to the pandemic. Applications are due May 15 – more information and application instructions are available here.

“This will not solve all of the problems our students are facing, of course, but I hope it will provide some income for students who lost summer opportunities, while also giving them some constructive and hopefully intellectually stimulating work,” Sabato said.

Interns at the Center for Politics, for example, might work on the center’s election forecasting site, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which will be busy with predictions and analysis for this year’s presidential election. Interns at the Miller Center might use the center’s extensive archives to research other crises that affected presidential elections, or help with center’s Presidential Oral Histories project. Interns at the Weldon Cooper Center and the Sorensen Institute will focus on state politics and policy analysis; while those at the Batten School could help develop online programming.  

Sabato hopes it will be a win-win for students and for the public sector.

“The absence of these students from the public sector occurs during a time when the country needs them the most,” he said. “They can’t afford to lose their jobs, and the rest of us can’t afford to lose their talents.” 

For more information and to apply, visit the Center for Politics site.