Harrisburg Semester

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Fax Number: 
(717) 948 6320

The Internship Experience

The Harrisburg Semester Internship Program places students in the midst of Pennsylvania politics and policy making and provides them with practical, on-the-job experience working in their field of interest. For many, this internship is a student's first 'real-world' learning experience and opens the door for future employment opportunities. Students participating during the Spring Semester will experience the Capitol while offices are in full session while Summer participants will have the opportunity for a range of experiences while staying on track with projected graduation schedules. Both Penn State and non-Penn State students are eligible to participate.

Benefits for students

  • Increases self-confidence as public service professionals

  • Builds resume and portfolio

  • Enhances networking opportunities and connections for future employment

  • Encourages intellectual growth, integrating classroom learning with workplace experiences.


Faculty coordinators work closely with students to place them in state and local government agencies, community and economic development organizations, government-related businesses, and non-profits.

Specific placements may include the state legislature, state agencies, public affairs and lobbying firms, and policy advocacy organizations in areas such as economic development, human rights, and environmental policy. The program also seeks new internship sites to match students’ interests.

Recent placements

  • State legislature (committees, representatives, and senators)

  • State agencies: Human Relations Commission, Department of Health, Governor’s Policy Office,  Department of Agriculture, Department of Aging

  • Lobbying and public relations firms:  Novak Strategic Advisors, the Winter Group, the Bravo Group, Greenlee Partners, Delta Development Group, and TRIAD

  • Economic development organizations/public-private partnerships: Harristown Development Corporation

  • Advocacy organizations: Pennsylvania League of Conservation Voters, Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations, the Pennsylvania Council on Independent Living, Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce

  • Non-profits: United Way, the YWCA

  • Pennsylvania Legislative Services

Common responsibilities

  • Conducting legislative research

  • Attending legislative committee meetings and hearings

  • Planning conferences and special events

  • Preparing marketing and media reports

  • Designing and updating websites

  • Responding to constituent requests

  • Tracking federal or state legislation

  • Preparing campaign events

  • Engaging in policy advocacy

For more, see excerpts from student journals.


Students are encouraged to apply early, as paid internships are limited. Students should choose an internship placement based on its value to future career goals. Several stipends are available for students who accept unpaid internships.



Students must pay the current Penn State undergraduate tuition rate for the courses outlined. Students from other schools will pay the current undergraduate tuition rate to their home institution.


  • The International House (I-House) http://www.ihousehbg.org -- Located in center city Harrisburg, within walking distance of most internship sites and the Capitol. Created to provide a warm and friendly environment where students, scholars, and interns can live and learn from one another. The I-House fills quickly. Students should reserve housing as early as possible.

  • Housing in the city of Harrisburg is available through various sources.

Rental rates

Rental rates for housing, including the International House, list between $550-$750 per month.


Students should also budget for food, transportation, and entertainment.

Financial Aid

  • Liberal Arts Scholarships for University Park Students — Must be a full-time undergraduate (i.e., at least 12 credits per semester) with primary major in the College of Liberal Arts and require funds to support activities such as internships, study abroad, and travel to professional conferences associated with the major.
    2011-2012 Application for Student Enrichment

  • The Cliff Jones Fund — Several stipends of $2,500 each are available to Penn State undergraduate students who enroll in the summer Harrisburg Semester program. The fund, named in honor of the longtime Penn State Harrisburg advocate who served four Pennsylvania governors in cabinet positions, was initiated to financially assist students in the Harrisburg Semester program which he helped create.

  • Honors Students — Students should check with their honors program about the availability of financial aid for internship and public service projects.

Non-Penn State Students

  • Students from other academic institutions who meet the academic criteria are welcome to participate in this program. Students are strongly encouraged to contact the Harrisburg Semester coordinator to discuss their objectives for participating in this program. Past students have participated in Harrisburg Semester for job experience only, while others received permission from their home institution to transfer credits back to fulfill graduation requirements.

  • Non-Penn State students should seek stipends from their home institution.