UCDC Internships

Internships are the core of the UCDC Program. A student’s internship experience not only involves the majority of their time, but also helps define and enrich the academic components of the program.

Finding an internship When should I apply? Applying for internships Steps to take FAQs
Finding an internship

You will need to secure your own internship (working a minimum of 32 hours/week) prior to the start of the program.  While applying for internships is your responsibility, the UCDC staff is available to assist you in navigating this process.  

Internship categories

Arts & Culture Embassies Journalism/Media/Communication Science & Technology
Business, Economics & Marketing Environmental Issues Judicial Branch Social Justice
Campaign Committees & Delegations Executive Branch Law The Hill
Children and Familes Government Relations Law Enforcement Think Tanks
Consumer Advocacy Health & Human Services Lobbyists Trade and Professional Associations
Defense & National Security Human Rights Museums Unions
Education International Relations Public Relations Women's Issues


Internship organizations of recent UCSB students

Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE) Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) Mexican Embassy Smithsonian Institute
American Bar Association (ABA) DC Coaltion Against Domestic Violence Middle East Institute (MEI) The White House
Americans for the Arts Embassy of France National Council of Asian Pacific Americans U.S. Attorney's Office
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) National Education Association (NEA) U.S. Department of Commerce
Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) Environmental Law Institute (ELI) National Immigration Forum U.S. Department of Justice
Brady: United Against Gun Violence Hirshhorm Museum and Sculpture Garden Ofice of Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) UC Office of Federal Governmental Relations (UCFGR)
Brookings Institute Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi United Nations Foundation
Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy Labour Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) Physicians for Human Rights Voice of America
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Pro-Bono Institute Voto Latino
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Initiative (CHCI) Libraries Without Borders (LWB) Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) Washington D.C. Economic Partnership


See this document for potential internships related to each major. Please note, these are example internships and placement with organizations listed is never guaranteed. 

When should I apply?

Your internship should be secured and approved by the UCDC Program office before you begin your term in D.C. You can apply to the program without having secured an internship.

Some students begin applying to internships even before being accepted into the program. While this is allowed, it is not necessary—unless you intend to intern with the State Department, Department of Defense, or any other government department where a multi-month security clearance is required.

Please note that securing an internship does not assure acceptance to the program. Furthermore, the UCDC Program office must approve your internship before you accept an offer.

Again, it is your responsibility to apply for internships and secure one in time for your term. 

Applying for internships

To find the right internship for your term in Washington, D.C., you should expect to:

  • Research possible internship sites
  • Apply to at least 10 internships - use the internship spreadsheet to keep yourself organized!
  • Seek approval from the UCDC Program office
  • Secure your internship

The staff at the UC Washington Center will start working with you as soon as they are notified of your acceptance.  They will work with you throughout the search process, providing feedback and assistance.

You will have access to the UCDC database, which features 1,200+ organizations in the DC area that offer internships and with whom UCDC has worked.  The database is also a platform where students will document their experience by completing forms and providing feedback.

There will be professional development events through the UCDC mentoring program, Monday Night Forums, and other opportunities.

Following the seven steps listed below, as well as seeking assistance from the UCDC Program staff, can help to ensure that you find the right internship at the right time.

Steps to take

Step 1: Determine your goals

What type of internship experience are you looking for? The questions below can help you narrow your vision:

  • What is my mission/purpose for seeking this internship?
  • What do I hope to gain from this experience? (connections, a future position, insight into what a job in this field is really like, etc.)
  • Do I want to learn something related to my intended career?
  • Do I want my internship to be related to my major?
  • Do I prefer to work in the private sector, government, non-profit, etc.?
  • Would a bigger or smaller organization be best for me?
  • Do I want a company with a formal mentoring program?

Step 2: Research internship sites that align with your goals

It is wise to use as many resources as possible when conducting your internship search.  After you've been accepted into the program, the UCDC staff will provide you with lists of available internship positions.  You are also encouraged to perform our own research as well if you have particular interests not reflected in the site listings.

Step 3: Identify the application processes for 10 or more internship sites

Understand what the application entails and the deadllines.  

Step 4: Prepare your application materials and apply

Each internship site will requires different application materials.  Listed below are some common application elements and tips.

  • Cover letter – Be sure to state that you are a UC Santa Barbara UCDC participant and include your participation dates.

  • Resume – As much as possible, tailor your resume (and your cover letter) to each organization. Highlight the experiences most relevant to each internship. 

  • Writing Sample – Carefully follow the internship site’s instructions. Some sites make very specific writing sample requests, while others simply want to verify that you can write well. For example, you may use your UCDC essay or a research paper you have written for a class as your writing sample.

  • Letter(s) of Recommendation – If sites want more than one letter of recommendation, you may need to obtain letters beyond the ones you used for your UCDC application. If you want to use your UCDC letters of recommendation for an internship application, send an email to the UCDC staff. Please include the relevant contact person’s name and email address, and she will email your letters for you.

When applying, you may use any of the materials (writing sample, letters of recommendation, etc.) that you submitted to UCDC. If you plan to submit your application materials via email, remember to convert your documents to PDFs in order to preserve formatting. Finally, proofread everything carefully (don‘t just spell check)!

Step 5: Follow up

It is critical that you remain proactive with your internship search and record the dates you expect to hear back from each internship site. If you have not heard from a site by the time specified, you must follow up to check your application status and/or set up an interview time (if necessary). Continue to keep track of any information you receive about a new time frame, and continue to follow-up, if needed. If an internship site is not getting back to you in a prompt fashion (allow at least one week for them to respond), you may need to apply to another internship site.

Step 6: Participate in interviews

Most internship sites will want to conduct a phone/virtual interview with you. If you need assistance in preparing for an interview, UCSB Career Services is a fantastic campus resource. Be sure to conduct your interview in a quiet place without music or roommate interruptions. Send a thank you email within 48 hours of your interview.

Step 7: Secure and commit to a placement

Once you are offered a position, you should make a decision promptly (generally within two weeks of receiving an offer). The UCDC Program must officially approve your internship position before you can accept the offer.  Be sure to notify them and provide them with the details of your internship organization and position duties.

If your departure is approaching (within 3 weeks), and you still have not secured an internship, contact the UCDC office for assistance.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT accept an internship if you are not sure that you want it. It reflects poorly on you and the UCDC Program if you commit to a position, only to decline after accepting it.

Internship FAQs

How can I begin searching for internships?
Please visit the UCDC Finding an Internship page for a large listing of DC-area organizations.

How many internships should I apply for?
You are encouraged to apply for at least 7-10 internships.

Are there many paid internships in DC?
There are some paid internships in DC. Some of the best and most rewarding internships are unpaid, while many paid internships are menial. For those internships that are paid, wages or stipends can range from $70 a month to $1500 a month. The compensation will depend upon the particular field in which you will be working.

The deadline has already passed for an internship I want. Should I still apply?
Some internship sites are strict about deadlines, while others are flexible. If a deadline has passed, contact the organization directly to ask if applications are still being accepted.

The internship start and end dates listed on the organization’s website are different than our school’s quarter dates. Is this a problem?
Not usually. Most organizations are more familiar with semester students and, therefore, list their internship opportunities as starting and ending according to those dates. Most of the time, however, they are open to quarter students’ schedules as well.

Some organizations are asking for confirmation that I am receiving academic credit for my internship. How do I obtain this?
There are many different forms of verification. The UCSB Capital Internship Programs office can provide you with the appropriate method of verification. 

A potential internship site has asked me for a writing sample. What should I provide?
Sometimes the organization will be specific about what type of writing sample is needed, although this is not always the case. If not specified, provide an abstract of a well-written paper or something similar. Most organizations ask for writing samples between 2 and 3 pages in length.

How many hours per week am I required to work at my internship?
During the academic year (fall, winter, spring), you must work at least 32 hours per week in order to earn the required 8 P/NP internship units. In summer, there are different options for units. You will take a minimum of 4 internship units (24 hours/week for 10 weeks), and you have the option to take 6 internship units (28 hours/week for 10 weeks).  Financial aid students must enroll in 6 units to qualify for aid.

What should I do if an organization offers me an internship but I am still waiting to hear from other organizations with whom I would rather work?
Organizations in DC know that internship applicants are applying to multiple organizations. If you get an offer and you are still awaiting a reply from a more preferable site, simply ask the organization if you can have a week or two to consider the offer. Or, find out the latest possible date that the organization will need a response.

My internship site needs to know the dates of my first and last day of work. How do I determine this?
All of the session dates for each quarter are listed in the Calendar/Deadlines section. Generally, you are encouraged to begin working the day after your orientations in D.C. As for your last day of work, be sure to leave yourself adequate time to pack and check out at the end of your term. You will be working up against strict move-out dates and will need to be on-time for your return flight, so a sufficient time cushion will be important.

If I arrive in DC and end up disliking my internship, what should I do?
If you have concerns about your internship, you should Program Administrator for UCSB in D.C. who works closely with UCSB students, for advice. They can discuss communication methods for you to talk to your supervisor about ways to improve your internship experience. Please note that it is not acceptable to quit an internship at any time while participating in UCDC.