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October 2000, Vol. 3 No. 5 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Civil Service Internship Programme for Political Science Students
Associate Professor David Seth Jones
Internship Coordinator, Department of Political Science


Since 1993, the Department of Political Science has participated in the Civil Service Student Internship Programme, under which students are attached to a Ministry for six weeks during the long May/June vacation. So far, 93 Political Science students have participated in the Programme, including 13 students selected for the Programme in May/June 2000. The Ministries to which they have been attached include Communications & Information Technology, Community Development & Sports, Defence, Education, Environment, Finance, Health, Home Affairs, Information & the Arts, Law, Manpower, National Development, and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The type of work undertaken

The students perform professional duties within Government administration. These may involve doing research projects, designing and carrying out surveys, writing papers, reviewing plans, preparing exhibitions, analysing media reports, or developing websites.

For example, during May and June 2000, two students were assigned a joint project to study service delivery standards at the Singapore Land Registry (including a survey of customer satisfaction levels and measures to improve them). Part of the project was also the design of an interactive website to facilitate electronic conveyancing. Another two students were attached to the International Talent Division at the Ministry of Manpower. One designed a Chinese contact website, whilst the other undertook an assessment of overseas tertiary qualifications to facilitate the programme of attracting suitable foreign talent to Singapore.

During the Internship Programme, the students visit other Ministries and organisations in the public sector. In the course of these visits, they are briefed on the work of the organisation. In addition, the students are given an overview of the Singapore Civil Service when they attend a briefing session at the Public Service Division at the beginning of the Internship Programme.

Selection of students

The Department adopts strict criteria in selecting students for the Internship Programme. Second and third year students, who have received a B+ grade or above for most of their courses, are invited to fill up an application form. As part of their application, they write a short essay on why they wish to undertake the Internship. Senior members of the Department then interview the applicants. On the basis of their interview performance, information provided in their applications, the grades received for their courses, and feedback from tutors, the final list of applicants is selected.

Benefits of the Internship Programme

The Internship Programme gives students a greater knowledge of Government administration in Singapore. They gain first-hand experience of the way Civil Service Departments operate, how policies are formulated and implemented and the way services are delivered. In so doing, they acquire an understanding of decision-making and administrative procedures on a day-to-day basis.

Most of the work given to the students involves research either through surveys and interviews or by consulting documents, from which relevant information is gathered, analysed, and summarised. Thus, they gain valuable exposure in undertaking practical research in the context of public administration. In many cases, the students are called upon to write reports and papers as part of their research projects. This gives them experience in how to compile reports, and enables them to appreciate the need for clear and concise writing for this purpose. In addition, the students are usually given a degree of autonomy in doing their work. They enjoy plenty of scope to use their initiative in planning their work, gathering and analysing information, writing reports, solving problems that crop up, and finding new tasks to be done.

The Internship students find that they learn a lot from interacting with others in the job situation, especially in meetings and dialogue sessions with senior officers. In addition, they are often engaged in joint projects with other Internship students, through which they learn the importance of team work and cooperation. Some of the Political Science students work with students from other disciplines also involved in the Civil Service Internship Programme, which allows them to share perspectives derived from their different disciplines.

A further benefit is that the Internship Programme gives the students an opportunity to consider the Civil Service as a possible career option and assess their suitability for such a career. Over the years, quite a number of Political Science Internship students have joined the Civil Service or a Statutory Board after their graduation.


The Internship Programme has given Political Science students valuable experience in a professional working environment, enabled them to see how the theories and concepts of Political Science apply in practice in Government administration, and opened up for them possible career options within the public sector. In their feedback, the students have regularly reported that they learnt a lot from the Internship Programme, and found the experience challenging and enriching. The Department of Political Science is indebted to the Public Service Division, and those officers in the different Ministries who supervised the Interns, for all their efforts in organising and implementing the Programme since 1993.

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Organising Apprenticeship Programmes: Methods, Pitfalls and Optimisation
Setting Up the Department of Biological Sciences' Professional Placement Programme
Practical Training Scheme at the Departments of Building and Real Estate
The Applied Chemistry Professional Placement Programme
The Virtual Laboratory Platform as a Form of Internet-based Apprenticeship
Civil Service Internship Programme for Political Science Students
Internship for Arts Students in the Talent Development Programme ogramme
Apprenticeship in Postgraduate Orthodontic Training
Student Responses to the Pharmacy Practice Preceptorship Programme