Department Launches New Paid Internship Program

The Department of Political Science, in partnership with the newly formed Isla Vista Community Service District (CSD) and the Chancellor’s Office, has initiated a new internship program for UCSB students to get involved with governance in Isla Vista.

The formation of the Isla Vista CSD passed on a public ballot in Fall 2016, and it represents the latest development in the community's five decade movement for greater self-governance. As department chair, Professor Bruce Bimber notes, “Isla Vista is an essential part of the University community. When we learned that the newly formed CSD was developing internship opportunities for students, we were excited to get involved by providing ways for students to earn academic credit for their work in the community. Our students have a lot to offer toward building effective governance in IV."

After a competitive selection process, three students were selected to serve as interns in the Spring 2017 as a part of the pilot program’s inaugural class. The interns will help the CSD to build governance from the ground up while gaining real world experience. UCSB Interns will work on a variety of projects, including: parking studies; housing standards; community policing; legal constraints on CSDs; sustainability projects; revenue models; and general community government issues. In addition to providing a valuable service to Isla Vista, the interns will get direct experience putting into practice what they learn in the classroom.

The IV CSD internship program falls under the newly developed Academics Beyond the Classroom initiative directed by Professor Neil Narang. In addition to supporting extracurricular activities and clubs, the Academics Beyond the Classroom initiative seeks to increase the number of Political Science majors participating in internships throughout the local community, California and beyond. The Undergraduate Program Coordinator in the Political Science Department, Dr. Alison Keleher, shares that “Internships are a valuable part of the undergraduate experience. Nationwide, 60% of undergraduates report participating in at least one internship, and yet, our experience suggests that the rate at UCSB is much lower. We’re hoping that this program will eventually catalyze all UCSB students to participate in internships, not just political science majors.”

In an effort to encourage and enable students to participate in internships, Dr. Alison Keleher and Professor Neil Narang have taken several steps. The Political Science Department has compiled a comprehensive list of internships and posted it on its website. The Department has also directly advertised the initiative through in-person announcements in lectures and by utilizing Facebook and Twitter to push announcements to its majors. The department also provides the opportunity for students to receive academic credit (up to 8 units) for participating in internships. Reflecting on the scope of the initiative, Professor Narang noted that “this is the most exciting undergraduate initiative that the Department has rolled out in the four years that I have been at UCSB.”

Excitement for this initiative extends beyond the Department. George Thurlow, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Isla Vista Affairs and CSD Board Member, writes that the “We’re excited to partner with the Department of Political Science in this new initiative and we look forward to seeing the excellent work that the interns contribute to the Isla Vista Community.”

According to Professor Narang, “The Department is now hoping to form partnerships with the local community and donors to support the program. The ambition is to eventually expand the program to 15-20 students each term, but this is conditional on securing additional financial support.” He pointed to successful models set by donors like Trustee Marilyn Lee, who has generously offered financial support for the CSD Internship program, and the Larry Adams Scholarship in Public Policy, which provides funding for students participating in public service internships.