FAQ: Application and Screening Process for USICD's Internship Program

FAQ: Application and Screening Process

Q. What's the deadline to apply for USICD's summer 2017 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program?

A. We are now open for applications for the summer 2017 program. Your application is due by January 25, 2017. (Please note that older announcements gave an earlier deadline. The deadline has now been extended to January 25.) Please apply soon!

Q. I see that the application form asks for three references.  Should I send you letters of recommendation?

A. No, you do not need to collect or send letters of recommendation at this time.  We simply need the names and contact information for three people we can contact who would be willing to be a reference for you.  The application form will ask you to fill in this information on the next-to-last page of the application. If you are invited to interview then you may send letters of recommendation at that time.

Q. Can I ask family members or friends to be references for me?

A. As a general rule, we discourage using family or friends as references.  (By the way, this same rule usually applies for most other internship programs and job applications also!)  We are looking for people who can provide objective feedback to us about your maturity, work ethics, background, skills, and qualifications for participating in the internship program. We encourage you to consider employers, or supervisors for past internships or volunteer work that you may have done, or teachers.

Q. I have submitted an application form.  Will I receive a confirmation email?

A. Yes.  We try to acknowledge completed application forms and resumes within one to five business days.  If we are still missing your resume, then your acknowledgment email will let you know and will ask you to send it by the application deadline.  If you have not yet heard from us, please email internships@usicd.org or call 202-347-0102.

Q. How do I send you my resume?

A. All applicants must submit both an application form and a resume by the application deadline to be considered for the USICD internship program.  You can send your resume as a file attachment to internships@usicd.org.  We prefer to receive resumes in Word document format (.doc or .docx) where feasible.

Q. What information should I include in my resume?

A. Please include the following:

  • If you do not yet have a bachelor's degree, then please be clear about how much undergraduate education you have completed.
  • If you are still a student, please indicate your currently declared major(s) and minor(s) and your anticipated graduation date.
  • Be clear about the year and approximate month in which you received any degrees or certificates and what your major(s) and minor(s) were.
  • If your grade point average was good, then you may include it.
  • Please do include work experience, past internships, and any volunteer experience, and the kinds of tasks for which you were responsible.
  • Be especially sure to highlight any experience or training that you feel may help demonstrate your strong commitment to a future career in the international development or foreign affairs fields.
  • Also, be especially sure to highlight any experience or training that you feel might be helpful preparation for an internship at an organization dedicated to international development or foreign affairs.

Q. Should I submit a writing sample with my resume?

A. No, we do not look at writing samples until we have selected who we want to interview. If you are invited to interview, then you may submit your writing sample at that time.

Q. Tell me more about the screening process.

  • USICD staff review all application forms and resumes from eligible applicants with the assistance of a review panel. 
  • USICD then decides which candidates to invite for an interview.
  • Candidates invited to interview should also expect to complete a survey form providing additional detail about their skills, background, and training. 
  • Candidates invited to interview also will be asked to submit a short writing sample. This can be up to two pages long. Where feasible, it is ideal if the writing sample is something you wrote for a previous internship in the international development or foreign affairs. If this is not feasible, then something you wrote for class is acceptable. If your best writing sample is too long, then please either submit just the first two pages or provide excerpted text from your chosen sample.
  • We anticipate completing interviews sometime in February.  Being invited for an interview does NOT guarantee that we will accept you into the program. 
  • The final selection of interns is usually confirmed by about April.

Q. Tell me more about the interviews.

A. We will invite a small pool of selected applicants to interview with us as part of the screening process.  Many of these interviews are by phone (voice).  But we strive to be flexible in accommodating communication accessibility needs during the interview process.  For example, we have conducted some interviews via the instant messaging / text "chat" feature in Skype for applicants who cannot (or prefer not to) do a voice phone interview.  The internship program coordinator is also fluent in ASL and can conduct an interview via video phone.  We also are happy to discuss other approaches in accordance to the needs of each candidate.  The on-line application form includes an optional question that invites you to describe any communication accommodations you might need for the interview process.  If you are invited for an interview, this will of course be another opportunity to discuss the best approach for ensuring equal access to the interview process. Interviews are generally not in person.

Q. Will I be notified if I am declined from the program?

A. Yes, all applicants should expect to receive an email from us with an indication of our decision sometime in April or earlier. If you need clarification of your status sooner, you may reach out to internships@usicd.org to inquire.

Q. I am ready to apply!  Anything I should know about the application form before I start?

A. We will look forward to your application!  Some things you may find helpful to know before you start:

  • Once you begin the application form, you will NOT be able to save your draft and come back to it.  It is okay if you need to abandon your application in the middle.  It is better to do this than to submit an incomplete application!  However, if you do this, you will need to start the application form all over again.  We regret the inconvenience.
  • The first page of the application form asks for for your name and contact information.
  • The second page of the application form asks you questions related to your eligibility for USICD's internship program, such as status as a student or recent graduate, age, citizenship status, etc. 
  • The third page of the application form will ask you to complete short written answers to four questions.  You may find it helpful to consider your answers to these ahead of time.  You may, if desired, copy/paste responses from a Word document or other text file into the application form.  We encourage up to 200 words for each response:
    • Why do you want to pursue a future career in international development or international affairs?
    • Where do you hope to be in your career 10 years from now (after you have graduated and gained some experience)?
    • How do you hope to use your summer 2017 internship experience to help you prepare for your future career goals?
    • In what ways have you exposed yourself to information or experiences related to international affairs or international development? For example, have you extensively researched relevant topics such as human rights or poverty in other countries for school, or participated in Model UN or other internationally oriented activities?
  • The fourth page of the application form will ask you to provide contact information for three references who can comment on your maturity, work ethic, and qualifications for USICD's internship program. For each reference, you will be asked to provide:
    • First and last name
    • Street address, city, state, and postal code
    • Email address
    • Phone number
    • Optional: space is also provided to fill in the reference’s Skype screen name, if desired.
    • Optional: If desired, space is provided to indicate the reference’s preferred mode of communication.
  • The last page of the application has some optional questions.  USICD values diversity and wants a diverse pool of applicants.  The questions on the last page allow us to monitor how effective we are at recruiting applications from a widely diverse pool of prospective candidates.  You are free to leave any or all of the background questions blank (all of these questions are marked as optional).  Your responses will be kept confidential. The last page also asks how you first learned of USICD's internship program: this information allows us to monitor the effectiveness of the different approaches we use for publicizing the program.
  • You still need to hit the "submit" button on the last page for your application to be processed, even if you leave the entire last page blank.

Q. How can I strengthen my application?  What are you looking for in an application?

A. We are looking for applicants who are seriously committed to building a career in the field of international development or foreign affairs.  Usually it is desirable to see evidence that you have been thinking carefully about this choice for a long time. 

Successful applicants do not necessarily need to have made firm choices about what specialization you want to pursue in the field.  We understand that young people still studying in school often don’t know yet exactly what they want to do!  But we do look for people who have spent enough time learning about international development or foreign affairs to have a concrete idea for some of the career options available in these fields.  We also look for people who have considered how your innate talents and interests might best serve the field and started to narrow down your career choices. What sectors within the international development or foreign affairs fields interest you the most, and why? What country or region interests you the most (if any in particular), and why? If you know the answers to these--even if you are still deciding among multiple options--your application will usually be stronger.

Your academic degree program does not necessarily have to be in international development or international relations (see the related question in the eligibility criteria section of this FAQ).  But academic preparation in some major relevant to your career goals is a strong plus.  Past internship, volunteer, or work experience in the field can also be a plus.  Foreign language skills is not required but can be a plus for certain internship placements.  Any of these also can help demonstrate your serious, long-term commitment to pursuing a career in international development or foreign affairs.