Frequently Asked Questions – Internships

We hope the questions below give you the information you need during the application process for a World Affairs Council internship. Scroll down to learn more about how our internships have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With additional questions, please contact Magda Davis at

Why are there so many results when I search World Affairs Council? I see organizations in cities all over the country.
The World Affairs Council of Seattle is a member of a larger organization called the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA), but each member organization in cities around the country is a completely independent nonprofit. Think of the World Affairs Council of Seattle as the Woodland Park Zoo and WACA as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. We may know our peer organizations and collaborate from time to time, but we are all completely independent nonprofits. That means that the World Affairs Council of Seattle is not a branch or satellite office and our organization has its own board, President and CEO, as well as its own sources of funding and programming.

Since you’re related to the World Affairs Council in my hometown, can I start my internship at your office in Seattle, then transfer to another city?
Each World Affairs Councils of America member organization is completely independent, so we cannot transfer staff from one office to another. When applying for an internship at the World Affairs Council of Seattle, the entire internship must be completed with the World Affairs Council of Seattle.

Can I work remotely?
Under normal circumstances, we do not offer a remote internship option and require all interns to complete work on-site at the World Affairs Council office in downtown Seattle, or off-site at World Affairs Council meetings and events. This policy is on hold during the pandemic, during which time, we are allowing all interns to work remotely until it is safe to resume in-person work. We hope to return to our in-person policy as soon as public health guidance confirms it is safe to do so.

What internships are available this season?
Internships are based off of staff need and confirmed programming. Both of these factors rely on several external factors including speakers’ schedules, federal government funding cycles, and the plans of our current intern cohort. That means that we usually won’t know how many internships are available on each team until the last minute. If you’re lucky enough to get selected for a phone screen, that call will include an explanation of what’s being offered now.

What qualifications are you looking for right now?
Most of our internships are a good fit for those with demonstrated interest (such as major declaration, coursework, work, or volunteer experience) in international relations; foreign affairs; international development; global history, culture, religion, languages, literatures; economics; nonprofit management;  global public health. Some internships will require special skills, like expertise in a particular language, region, or topic, which will be needed for specific programs and will not be advertised due to short notice.

What are the hours?
Most of our internships are part-time and our office operates during business hours, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Interns are expected anywhere from 12-20 hours per week, with 15-16 hours being a typical commitment. Once selected for your internship, you will work with your supervisor to create a weekly work schedule that works for you both. The typical intern will work about 3 days per week for about 5 hours per day, on a regular schedule. This regular schedule would apply both to in-person and remote internships.

What is the start date?
Our start dates are flexible and can be tailored to meet your schedule. Start dates will be roughly: January for winter internships, March/April for spring internships, May/June for summer internships, and August/September for fall internships.

Can I defer acceptance?
You cannot defer acceptance to a later date, as each internship position will not be available during each recruitment cycle. If you do end up getting selected and cannot start your internship, you will be offered a chance to get at the front of the interview line when you become available.

Can I study abroad during my internship?
Sometimes. We often have interns start an internship for 3 months, leave for study abroad, and come back for another 3 months. Each request is considered on a case-by-case basis and will be determined based on program needs.

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen?
No. Because our unpaid internships are volunteer opportunities, applicants do not need to be citizens or have authorization to work in the United States.

Do interns get hired into staff positions?
Yes, but rarely. The World Affairs Council has a small staff and usually hires between 0-3 people per year. In order for your internship to end in a job offer at the Council, you would need to hope that an entry-level vacancy opens up at the right time. If that happens, we put current and recent interns at the front of the line when it comes to interviews. We also excel in making connections throughout the Seattle community and would be happy to introduce our interns to others living in the region and doing international work who may be hiring. However, if the main goal of your internship is to get hired at your internship site, the World Affairs Council will not be the best choice for you.

Are internships only for students? What age students are you looking for?
Our internships can be tailored to anyone, and we often have applicants from all backgrounds. Recent interns have included high school students, undergrads, graduate students, law students, recent graduates, and professionals looking for a career shift.

I applied a while ago and still haven’t heard from you. When will I hear back?
Since internship offerings are based off of confirmed programming, we often need to wait on several external factors before confirming how many spots are available and reaching out to candidates. Oftentimes, candidates are contacted within a month of the start date they applied for. Feel free to contact to get an update on your status.

Why wasn’t I selected?
Our internships are extremely competitive, especially during the summer, and demand greatly outweighs the small supply of positions we usually have available. Our average acceptance rate is around 0.5%. That means that unfortunately, we can’t get back to every candidate individually and we are often forced to turn down even great candidates. We will typically favor applicants who are local and who are available for 6+ months.  We also take into consideration special skills, like expertise in a particular language, region, or topic, which will be needed for specific programs and will not be advertised due to short notice.

COVID-19 Updates

How has the World Affairs Council been affected by the pandemic?
Being a people-facing public diplomacy organization, our work has been changed significantly due to the pandemic. We are lucky to have been able to adapt in several ways that have allowed us to continue bringing the world to Seattle during these difficult times. All information presented is to the best of our knowledge at the time and is subject to change at any moment to adapt to the most recent information. If you are selected for a screen or interview, you will be briefed on the most up-to-date information. From what we know now, specific changes to the internship experience depend on the team within the Council:

Operations: The entire staff and intern cohort has been working remotely since March 5, 2020 and continue to do so indefinitely. We hope to open the office for limited, optional use in late 2021 or early 2022.

Public events: Under normal circumstances, Community Programs, Global Classroom, the Fellows Program, and the Young Professionals International Network (YPIN) would all host in-person meetings and events. Each of those programs has switched to virtual events hosted over Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom.

Global Leadership Exchange (GLX): The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has cancelled all exchanges though at least September 2021, meaning the World Affairs Council will not be hosting any in-person international delegations until late 2021 at the earliest. In place of in-person exchange programs, the GLX team has been working with State and other program partners to create virtual exchange opportunities.

Can I start my internship remotely?
Yes! As long as our office is closed, all interns will be starting remotely.

Will I be expected to work from the office later in the year?
We hope to open the office for limited, optional use in late 2021. Although it will be available, we do not plan on requiring any intern to be present at the office until the pandemic risk has subsided. Those who need or wish to remain remote will have the option to do so.

Given that internships are remote, do I need to live in the Seattle area?
Interns working remotely do not necessarily need to be located in the Seattle area, but familiarity with the area will help with your work. Our programs primarily serve those in the Seattle area, so local knowledge comes in handy when relating to our audiences.

Will intern projects be the same as what I see listed in the position description online?
Given that our programs have adapted to the current reality, intern projects will be shifted accordingly. Unfortunately, one of the strongest aspects of the World Affairs Council internship program lies in in-person network opportunities, which have largely disappeared. We are happy to work with you to get creative with virtual introductions or virtual meetings to replace the loss of in-person networking opportunities.

Community Programs and Fellows Program intern tasks will be heavily research-focused. These programs require a high level of public policy and current events research and writing on a range of global topics in order to create comprehensive reports that serve as moderator preparation for our virtual events. This is a great way to turn academic research and writing skills into a professional product.

Global Classroom projects will be similarly focused on research and writing. Virtual teacher training workshops require in-depth curriculum guides that provide educators with background information, resources, and activities on a range of global topics. Interns will also help seek out additional online resources that others have created to share with local educators who need support in their extraordinary and unexpected switch to remote teaching.

Global Leadership Exchange interns will assist staff in arranging online meetings and logistics for virtual delegations alongside work in communications and marketing. These tasks include drafting and posting to our online blog, drafting posts for social media, researching our partners in the community, and brainstorming new ways to tell and share our stories with the public.

Communications and development work is least affected by the pandemic aside from the lack of live networking opportunities. These interns should expect projects in our customer database Salesforce, drafting and posting web content and newsletters, and supporting communication with high-level members and donors.

What can I expect to see in the coming months from World Affairs Council programs?
Our plans are constantly adapting to the world around us. Here’s what we know so far:

All meetings and events are being held virtually through fall 2021. We hope to be able to resume in-person programming later in the year or in 2022 if it is safe to do so. If that happens, we will look into hybrid models (hosting both in-person and virtual events as it makes sense for each event).

Global Leadership Exchange’s in-person delegations will likely not resume until 2022, at the sole discretion of the U.S. Department of State. We continue to implement virtual delegations and expect to continue to do so until overseas travel and group gatherings become safe options.

What equipment do I need to participate in a remote internship?
You will need a computer, preferably equipped with a webcam, speakers, and microphone to accommodate video meetings. You will also need a quiet, adequate workspace with reliable internet connection. If you don’t have access to any of these specifications, the World Affairs Council may be able to help. Please bring this up during your initial screen or interview so we can work through options with you and set you up for success.