A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Through curricular and experiential learning, START educates, mentors and trains the next generation of national security scholars and practitioners.

Internship Frequently Asked Questions


Internship Frequently Asked Questions

We receive a lot of questions about our internship program. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions and answers below. Feel free to reach out to internships@start.umd.edu if you have any additional questions.

How do I apply?

To apply, read through each project description and select which projects you are most interested in and qualified for before you begin your application. Once you know which projects you'd like to work with, fill out the application web form. Each project description has a link to our common application. In the form, we ask you to indicate your first, second, and third choice project team. Your application will be reviewed in order of the projects you select in this section. 

What should my writing sample look like?

We ask for a two-page writing sample to better understand your skill and style as a writer. Feel free to use a portion of a paper you've already written--a section that stands alone (like an introduction, literature review, or methods section) works best for us, but do not feel obligated to produce something new. If you have a paper focused on terrorism or your project's specific focus, great! If you do not, that's OK too, just use something that demonstrates your writing skill and style.

Am I still eligible to intern with START if I need to miss some of the days in the program schedule?

That depends- we understand that our interns are balancing various school and work obligations, and will work with you to set up a schedule to accommodate your needs at the beginning of each term. If something like a doctor's appointment, illness, or family commitment comes up during your time with us, we will work with you to make up lost time.

If you know in advance that you will need to miss a significant portion of the internship (such as orientation or the week of final presentations), we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate your schedule, as these are critical times for interns.

I applied a while ago and haven't been contacted for an interview. What does that mean?

Because of our commitment to thoroughly reviewing each internship application, the applicant review process can take some time (often a few weeks or months after the application deadline). That being said, when our review is complete, we will either make you an official offer to intern with us or inform you that you were not selected.

Does START have a rolling decision process?

No. We begin our review process immediately after the application deadline. We work hard to get decisions out to students quickly, but we do not have a rolling review process.

Unfortunately, I missed the application deadline can I still apply?

Sadly, no. We begin our review of applications immediately after the deadline and, due to our multi-tiered review process, it is not possible for us to consider late applications.

I'm an international student, can I work at START?

Some of our projects do require U.S. Citizenship due to limitations set by the project’s funders. The citizenship requirements for these projects are clearly indicated in the project description. Additionally, in order for you to work with any START project, you must be legally allowed to take an unpaid internship in the United States. This means you must hold an F-1 visa and not be on OPT status. Because START internships are short-term, we cannot sponsor visas for interns. We also cannot host you as a volunteer, as we must process you through UMD human resources in order for you to have access to our office and networks systems. 

I’m a former START Intern. Do I need to re-apply if I would like to intern again?

Yes, you’ll need to re-apply for another term with us. We need all the same information from you that we did when you applied the first time, even if you apply to work on the same project. You will likely be contacted to re-interview as well.

I’m a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate Student or Recent Graduate – am I eligible to apply?

Yes! All of our projects are looking for specific skills that you may or may not have yet, but there is likely something that you will be eligible to work on at START. The program writ large does not place restrictions on your class standing.

I’ll be taking courses while I plan to work at START. How many hours do interns work? Can I fit my internship around my classes?

We understand individuals who intern with us have other constraints on their time. We require interns work 10 hours/week in the fall or spring semesters and 20 hours/week in the summers. Your schedule must fit within normal business hours and be approved by your supervisor. We ask that you work a regular schedule (i.e., the same times each week of the program) and that you don’t work extra-long (+8 hours) or short (less than 2 hours) shifts at any given time.

Are your internships paid?

While we are unfortunately not able to pay our interns, we invest heavily in mentoring and student development by keeping our supervisor to intern ratio extremely low. Additionally, each term we host a series of speaking events from professionals working in security, policy, and research to serve as learning opportunities for students looking to enter a similar field. Interns find these opportunities with our colleagues, funders, and alums extremely beneficial.

I’m able to earn academic credit for internships through my University, does START allow students to earn credit?

Yes! We actually prefer students earn credit for their internships with us (but it’s not required). Your home institution can generally grant you credit for your time as an intern. You should check with your advisor to make sure you understand the process. You can also earn credit through START. Our course: BSST386: Experiential Learning in Terrorism Studies is designed to complement an internship in order to earn academic credit. Click here more information on BSST386.

I don’t live or go to school near College Park, would I need to relocate? If so, what kind of housing options are there in College Park?

As no remote opportunities are permissible through START’s internship program, interns often need to temporarily relocate to participate. Upon accepting an offer from START to intern with us, we will provide you with more information about housing options in the College Park and Washington, DC area. START does not provide housing directly, but there are many options throughout the year for students traveling to the area for internships.

I am a student in Washington, DC. Is College Park accessible by Metro?

START and the University of Maryland are Metro-accessible. We are a short shuttle ride away from the College Park-U of M stop on the green line. There are also many Metro, Prince George’s County and UMD buses that service the area.