Director's Internship Program
The Director’s Internship is a signature program of the IOP. Since 1995, the IOP has partnered with high-profile organizations and elected officials around the world to provide substantive, career-oriented summer internships for undergraduate students interested in politics, government, and public service. These are fully-funded internships that allow students to gain experience in the public sector that may otherwise be difficult to obtain or finance. Students have reported these internships as leading to careers, larger networks, and significant development of professional skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Director’s Internship program application will open in early December and will be due in early-February. An updated list of host organizations will be available in mid-November.
The IOP is able to support in-person, remote, and hybrid internships. Each host organization has been asked to indicate their ability to support an in-person internship. The types of internship formats (in-person, remote, hybrid, etc) a host organization is able to support will be noted at the beginning of each individual host organization description.
As of December 2022, Harvard’s COVID travel policy states that students who are fully vaccinated are able to travel both domestically and internationally (providing they adhere to all host-country requirements, and to Harvard’s student international travel policies). Unvaccinated students may petition the University to travel both internationally and domestically for in-person internships. There is more information about that petition process here.
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.
Students may 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.
In general, there is one internship position available per host organization.
Students who are selected for the IOP Director’s Internship program receive a $6000 stipend for 10 weeks of full-time work to take place between the first week of June and the second week of August. Exact dates will be announced.
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 provides the difference between $6000 and the host organization's stipend (ie: if a host organization provides $2000, the Director’s Intern would receive $4000 from the IOP for a total of $6000).
Students who work in-person internationally will be funded at the suggested country-level stipend as outlined by Harvard; this stipend will be at least $6000.
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.
Awards granted through the Director’s Internship program are to be used to support student expenses so that students can have an educational experience. Students may use funding to cover costs including housing, local transportation in program location, food, and incidentals.
Funding students receive from Harvard sources cannot be used to pay others to provide services or be given to an organization; for example, hiring third-party researchers or clinicians, or making charitable donations.
If you have any general questions or 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. If you would like to meet with a staff member about the Director's Internship Program, please reach out to Zoe Anderson (@firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a meeting.
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 receive an update on the status of their application by mid-March. At each point of the application process, being selected/not selected as a finalist, receiving/not receiving an offer, the IOP will update applications.
A: The IOP Director’s Internship application has three required parts: RESUME, STATEMENT OF INTEREST, and REFERENCES. More details about each are below:
- RESUME: 1 page. 1” margins, 11 - 12 point font. You can find resources and templates for resumes here.
- STATEMENT OF INTEREST: Write a one-page statement that demonstrates your knowledge of, and interest in, the organization to which you are applying.
- Basics: The statement should be one page in length, single spaced, with Times New Roman, 11 - 12 point font, and submitted in PDF format.
- Tone & Format: The tone and format of your Statement of Interest may vary depending on the organization(s) to which you're applying. The format can range between a college application essay and a traditional cover letter. This range is meant to allow you the freedom to choose what best suits you and fits the organization to which you’re applying. Your Statement of Interest can fall anywhere in that range (i.e. if you'd like to submit a traditional cover letter, you're free to do that).
- Salutation: 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.”
- REFERENCES: You will need to provide the names and contact information for two references. A reference can be anyone you choose - a professor, a coach, a tutor, a boss, etc. Depending on your class year, you may decide to choose someone from your time in high school. Your reference should be able to speak in detail about the positive skills and traits you possess. Please inform your reference that they may be contacted by the Director’s Internship selection committee during the course of evaluating your application.
- You can find a template here.
- NOTE: The IOP Director, Executive Director, and the Internships and Career Services program staff are not able to serve as references for the Director's Internship application.
For resume review, please visit the Mignone Center for Career Success (MCS), for their daily drop-ins. MCS also has great online resources for resumes, including templates and online workshops. Resumes must be kept to one page.
In one PDF document, you will need to provide the name, title (if applicable), email and phone number(s) of TWO references. A reference can be anyone you choose - a professor, a coach, a tutor, a boss, etc. Depending on your class year, you may decide to choose someone from your time in high school. Your reference should be able to speak in detail about the positive skills and traits you possess. Please inform your reference that they may be contacted by the Director’s Internship selection committee during the course of evaluating your application. You can find a template for the references document here.
You DO NOT need to submit a letter of recommendation, writing sample, or other materials to the IOP application on CARAT. However, AFTER the application closes, some organizations may request that finalists submit a letter of recommendation, writing sample, or other materials directly to their office. Please review the internship descriptions for the positions to which you are applying to confirm whether additional application materials are required of you AFTER the application deadline.
Director’s Internships are at least 10 weeks of full time work, though they can be longer. Unless otherwise stated in the internship description, internships will take place between the first week of June and the second week of August.
All currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates who intend to be enrolled at Harvard College the fall semester after the Director's Internship program are eligible to apply. Students who participated in the IOP Summer of Service virtual program during Summer 2022 and 2023 are eligible to apply.
- STUDENTS ON LEAVE: If you are on leave during the Fall or Spring semesters, you may be eligible to apply. You will need to petition, and receive approval from, the Administrative Board for approval to use the CARAT Application Portal. Contact your Resident Dean to initiate the petition process as soon as possible. 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, as the IOP is not able to expedite it.
- FORMER INTERNS: Students who interned with a Director's Internship host organization in summer 2022 and 2023 are eligible to apply for a Director's Internship for summer 2024. To promote equity of opportunity across applicants, students who participated in the Director’s Internship program in summer 2022 and 2023 are not eligible to apply to intern with the same organization for summer 2024. A list of our summer 2024 Director's Internship hosts will be available in late fall 2023.
- NOTE: The Hometown Director’s Internship opportunities are exempt from this rule. Students who held those positions in summer 2022 and 2023 may apply for them again for summer 2024.
No. All returning Harvard College students who meet the eligibility criteria are able to apply; involvement in the IOP is not a prerequisite.
Yes. All currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates who intend to be enrolled at Harvard College during the fall semester following the Director's Internship are eligible to apply. Generally about 25% of Director’s Interns are first-year students.
All currently enrolled Harvard undergraduates who intend to be enrolled at Harvard College during the fall semester following the Director's Internship are eligible to apply and participate. If you will not be enrolled in the Fall semester after the Program, you are not eligible. For instance, if you will be studying abroad in the fall semester but will still be considered a full-time student, you are eligible. However, if you are taking the fall semester off, you would not be eligible. Seniors who are graduating in May are not eligible for Director’s Internships or Summer Stipends.
No. You can apply for up to two internships that are sponsored by the IOP Director's Internship program at the same application deadline, 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. Harvard Global Health Institute, Center for Public Service and Engaged Scholarship), 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. Example: Students who apply to two Director's Internships co-sponsored with the Center for Public Service and Engaged Scholarship (CPIC) are allowed to apply for an unlimited number of additional CPIC internships that are NOT co-sponsored with the IOP.
Students are also eligible to apply to both the Director's Internship program AND the Summer Stipend program but can only accept a placement from one of those programs.
No. IOP Summer experiences are open to all students, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Selected students are awarded a stipend from the IOP to support their summer internship. If an individual host organization has any citizenship requirements, it will be noted in the internship description.