In light of Harvard University’s guidance regarding COVID-19, all summer 2020 IOP internships were conducted remotely. Meet the students in our Summer of Service cohort who participated in virtual internships in politics and public service. For more information about Summer 2020 internship programming, please review these Summer Programs 2020 FAQs.
Looking Ahead to Summer 2021
Timing | The applications for all summer 2021 programs at the Institute of Politics will be tied to the beginning of the spring semester. Per Harvard College, “a determination regarding the start of the spring semester is not expected until December.” Once that determination has been made, websites and application deadlines will be updated.
Deadline | The IOP Director’s Internship application will be open for at least four weeks prior to the application deadline and the deadline will likely be one week after the start of spring classes.
Opportunities | A full list of Director’s Internship opportunities is expected to be shared once the application is live.
Requirements | A complete application includes a statement of interest, resume, and letter of recommendation. Applicants may apply to no more than two internships that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the Institute of Politics.
Q: When will Director’s Internships be posted?
A: Generally, Director's Internships are posted - and the application goes live - by early December for the following summer, and you can see a list of host organizations here.
Q: What is the deadline to apply for an IOP Director’s Internship?
A: The general deadline is Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 11:59pm. A second round of Director's Internship applications will be accepted starting Friday, February 14 at 12 PM until Monday, February 24 at 11:59 PM EST.
A: Harvard College undergraduates who will be enrolled the fall semester following the Director's Internship program are eligible to apply. Graduating seniors and students who have been Director's Interns in the past are not eligible.
Students who are on leave from Harvard College during the spring semester or academic year before the Director's Internship program occurs must request approval to apply to the Director's Internship program from the Administrative Board. Please note that students on leave will not be eligible to apply until the Administrative Board has approved any request. We recommend students on leave begin this process as soon as possible.
Q: Are Director’s Internships competitive?
A: Director’s Internships are competitive, and organizations are looking for a best-fit. Take time to decide which organization(s) you’re most interested in, and where your skills and experience would be a good fit. It is highly recommended that you do background research into organizations that interest you and demonstrate that research and knowledge of the organization in your application.
Q: How many Director's Internships can I apply for?
A: Students are allowed to apply for up to two Director's Internships. If you apply to two internships, you will need to submit two unique, separate applications through CARAT. Applications are considered separately, and host organizations only review their applications. Applying for a second Director’s Internship (that may be your second choice) will not hurt your chances to obtain your first choice. To increase chances of being accepted into the program, students are encouraged to apply to two host organizations.
Students may only submit 1 application to Round 2 of the 2020 Director's Internship Program. Students who applied to the 2020 Director's Internship Program prior to Sunday, Feburary 5, 2020 (Round 1) are still eligible to submit one additional application.
Q: How many positions are offered with each organization?
A: In general, there is one internship per host organization.
Q: How much is the Director’s Internship stipend?
A: Starting in summer of 2018, all domestic Director’s Interns receive a $5000 stipend. While in most cases this stipend comes exclusively from the IOP, occasionally a host organization may choose to provide a stipend. In those cases, the IOP will provide the difference between $5000 and the host organization's stipend (ie: if a host organization provides $2000, the Director’s Intern would receive $3000 from the IOP for a total of $5000).
International Director’s Interns receive a stipend of at least $5000, and financial awards vary by country, based on recommendations from Harvard Global Support Services.
Additionally, the IOP and other funding centers at Harvard aim to distribute summer funding across the undergraduate community. Therefore, students who receive an IOP Director's Internship may not accept any additional Harvard funding for their internship. Students are also prohibited from accepting more than one substantial Harvard-funded summer opportunity each summer. In general, substantial experiences are defined as 8 weeks or longer. Students must disclose if they are receiving Harvard funding for any other projects at any point throughout the summer, the amount of the award, and the dates of the other project as soon as possible and no later than June 1 of the year of the award. The IOP reserves the right to modify awards accordingly. Failure to promptly report other Harvard-funded summer activities may be reported to the Administrative Board.
Q: I have a question about the Summer Earnings Contribution or the Priscilla Chan Summer Service Award, who can I ask?
A: For Summer 2020, at least 50% and up to 100% of the summer earnings contribution for students on financial aid who apply and are accepted to the IOP Director's Internship Program will be covered by the Priscilla Chan Summer Service Award in the Phillips Brooks House Center for Public Service & Engaged Scholarship. If you have questions about this award, please visit the Phillips Brooks House website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I have a question about a specific Director’s Internship, who can I contact?
A: If you have specific questions your best resource is a past intern. Past interns are listed here and here, and past intern reflections are included with organization descriptions here. If you have questions about an organization that is new to the program this year, you can email IOP_ICS@hks.harvard.edu. You should not reach out to the organization directly.
Q: After I submit my application, when can I expect to hear back?
A: This varies for each organization. In general, final decisions are expected to be made no later than mid-April, and it is our hope that every applicant will have received an update on the status of their application by spring break.
Q: What application platform does the Director's Internship use?
A: Director's Internship applications are submitted through CARAT. Once the application is live, you'll be able to see individual organization descriptions here and then apply through CARAT.
Q: What is the deadline to have my letter of recommendation submitted?
A: The deadline to have your letter of recommendation submitted is the same as the application deadline. You should enter your recommender in CARAT as soon as possible. Ask your recommender in advance, and complete the Reference part of CARAT as soon as possible so that your recommender has all of the instructions for completing their letter. In CARAT, you can resend an initial request to your recommender and also see if a letter of recommendation has been uploaded on your behalf.
If you are applying to more than one site, you will use the same letter for multiple applications, and you will need to send a Reference Request for each site/application in order for the letter to be uploaded for each of your applications (ie: your recommender will need to upload their letter twice. It can be helpful to give your recommender a heads up about this in advance).
Q: Who is an appropriate person to write my letter of recommendation?
A: Your letter of recommendation can be from anyone you choose - a professor, a coach, a tutor, a boss, etc. Depending on your year, it could also be someone from high school. It should be someone who knows you well and can speak in detail to the positive skills and traits you possess. Organizations are more interested in a detailed letter than one written by a CEO, politician, or famous professor who will not be able to speak to your skills and attributes in detail. Pick the person who you feel will write the strongest and most compelling letter on your behalf, whomever that is.
Note: the IOP Director, Executive Director, and the Internships and Career Services program staff are not able to write recommendations for the Director's Internship Program.
Q: Where do I fill out my application if I’m applying for a Director’s Internship co-sponsored with the Global Health Institute?
A: All applications for Director’s Internships co-sponsored with GHI will go through CARAT. You will need to apply for those internships here .
A: The Statement of Interest is somewhere between a cover letter and a college application essay. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of and interest in the organization to which you are applying. The Statement's range between a college application essay and a cover letter is meant to allow you the freedom to choose what best suits you, and your Statement of Interest can fall anywhere in that range (ie: if you'd like to submit a traditional cover letter, you're free to do that). If you’d like to use a salutation, you can address your Statement to the organization or to some variation of “IOP Director’s Internship Selection Committee.”
The tone and format of your Statement of Interest may vary depending on the organization(s) you're applying to and the organization's public persona. Looking at an organization's online presence (website, social media, etc) is a good way to gauge their tone. A strong Statement of Interest will make a clear and convincing argument of your candidacy and a strong connection between you and the organization. If you are applying to two Director's Internships, your Statement of Interest should be unique for each organization.
A: It should be one page in length, Times New Roman, 11 or 12 point font, single spaced. It must be submitted in PDF format.
A: One way around this issue is to ask your recommender to address the letter to the "Director's Internship Selection Committee."
It's important to note that while you will only ask for one letter of recommendation, if you are applying to two host organizations in the Director's Internship Program, your recommender will need to submit their letter twice - once for each host organization.
A: For resume review, please visit the Office of Career Services (OCS), for their daily drop-ins from 1:00 to 4:00pm at 54 Dunster Street. OCS also has great online resources for resumes, including templates and online workshops. Resumes must be kept to one page.
Q: How long are Director’s Internships? How do I know when my internship will start?
A: Director’s Internships are at least 10 weeks, though they can be longer. Unless otherwise stated in the internship description, start and end dates are determined once an intern has been selected to ensure timing works for both intern and host organization. That being said, with very few exceptions (ie: a summer ROTC training commitment) the time spent with an organization should be continuous (ie: not 5 weeks in June, followed by 5 weeks in August). You must request an exception to the 10 continuous week policy with the IOP for approval before May 1. Interns in Europe are encouraged to conclude their internship by early August, as that is generally a vacation month and many offices will close or work with reduced staff.
Q: I am a former Director’s Intern, am I still eligible to apply?
A: Students who have held a Director’s Internship in the past are not eligible to reapply for the program. This includes internships that are co-sponsored with other organizations across campus. However, we are always happy to talk about summer (and/or career) plans and think about how to best approach planning. Former Director’s Interns are eligible to apply for the IOP Summer Stipend Program.
Q: Do I need to have been involved with the IOP to be eligible for a Director’s Internship?
A: No. All returning Harvard College students who have not already been a Director’s Intern are eligible to apply; involvement in the IOP is not a prerequisite.
Q: I’m a freshman. Am I eligible to apply?
A: Yes. All students returning to campus in the fall 2020 who have not already been a Director’s Intern are eligible to apply. Generally about 25% of Director’s Interns are freshman.
Q: Am I still eligible if I won’t be on campus the fall term after the internship?
A: As long as you will be enrolled as a full time student at Harvard in the fall you’re eligible. For instance, if you are studying abroad but will still be considered a full-time student, you are eligible. However, if you are taking a semester off, you would not be eligible. Seniors who are graduating in May are not eligible for Director’s Internships.
Q: Can I apply to more than 2 internships if I’m applying to domestic and international internships?
A: No. You can apply for up to two internships that are sponsored by the IOP Director's Internship program, regardless of whether they are domestic or international, co-sponsored or not. However, if you apply for two internships that are co-sponsored by the IOP and another organization (e.g. HGHI, CPIC), you are still eligible to apply for any additional (not co-sponsored) internships with that organization until you have reached that organization's application limit. For example students who apply to two Director's Internships co-sponsored with GHI are allowed to apply for one additional GHI internship (not co-sponsored with the IOP), as students are allowed to apply for up to three internships with GHI.