The University of Illinois is rich with opportunities such as prestigious scholarships, internships, externships, international experiences, and research opportunities. Below is a compilation that may be of particular interest to pre-law students looking to enhance their experiences and opportunities during their undergraduate studies.
TIP: If you are not eligible for an opportunity now due to class year or other criteria; that’s ok! Planning ahead is an important aspect to your pre-law journey and identifying opportunities now can help you be successful later. If you see an opportunity that interests you, look at the criteria and qualities listed for successful candidates. Determine what can you do now to develop those qualities to enhance your candidacy later.
Academic Opportunities and Internships:
- National and International Scholarships: NIS (a/k/a Top Scholars) assists UIUC students in applying for prestigious opportunities such as Rhodes Scholars, Truman Scholars, Fulbright, and more. Opportunities include undergraduate and graduate study, research, and teaching–often in foreign countries. This is an excellent opportunity for a summer or semester as an undergrad or a gap year before law school!
- Illinois in Washington: IIW is the Washington, DC-based academic program for UIUC. Participants live in Washington, DC for a semester, where they intern and take classes taught by UIUC faculty. The program is offered in the fall, spring and summer and is open to all UIUC undergrads. This is an excellent opportunity to enhance your curriculum and resume, not to mention immerse yourself in the unique vibe of the Nation’s Capital!
- Internships: Internships may be department-sponsored, coordinated through the Career Services office, or procured independently by the student. Internships could be paid, unpaid, and/or for credit. Some examples of internships are listed below. Don’t worry if your major is not listed below, check with your advisor to learn more about major-specific internship opportunities. This is an excellent opportunity to apply your knowledge to real-work scenarios and enhance your resume!
- Champaign County Public Defender Program: In collaboration with the Champaign County Office of the Public Defender, the Political Science Department directs an internship in the Public Defender’s office for up to five undergraduates per semester for academic credit. Applications are generally due in October for the spring semester and April for the fall semester. For more information, click here.
- Political Internships in Illinois: A student doing an internship while enrolled on campus can earn three credits through the PS 491 internship course. This program runs in fall and spring only. Typical placements are the district offices of our state and US representatives, local and county government, legal aid, non-governmental organizations, and social service programs. For more information, click here.
- Department of Psychology | Community Internships: These internships require at least a one academic year commitment. Principles of psychology applied to service problems in the community; students serve as nonprofessional mental health workers in supervised experiences in schools, hospitals, and other nontraditional settings. To learn more, click here.
- College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Internships: LAS has multiple internship opportunities within the College. Develop effective communication, boost your leadership skills, and learn new technologies through these internships. Experiences include LAS 100, LAS 101, LAS 201, LAS 122, LAS Student Success Coaches, Hood Internship, ATLAS Internships Program, and the Data Science Scholars. To learn more, click here.
- Check out the PLAS Internship document for additional opportunities! To learn more, click here.
Campus Leadership and Volunteer Opportunities:
- Pre-Law Registered Student Organizations: The University of Illinois has several pre-law RSOs. Visit the blog for a highlight of pre-law student organizations and contact information. This is an excellent opportunity to gain leadership experience while connecting with your UIUC peers.
- Illinois Leadership Center: Explore the various opportunities presented by the Illinois Leadership Center. There are opportunities for research, to participate in different programs and services, and even to obtain a minor in leadership studies!
- Volunteer with UIUC: The Office of Civic Life (formerly the Office of Volunteer Programs) cultivates community partnerships that are designed to give students multiple entries to explore pathways to community involvement, global awareness, and civic responsibility. Explore the many ways to volunteer with UIUC by clicking here.
- Office of Student Engagement: Explore the many opportunities to get involved at UIUC as a student through the Office of Student Engagement. Participate in a student organization, volunteer opportunity, or with a campus committee. To learn more, click here.
Study Abroad and International Opportunities:
- Education Abroad (Study Abroad): UIUC offers hundreds of opportunities to study abroad. Options include Exchange Programs, Direct Enroll Programs, Provider Programs, and Faculty-Led/Short-Term Programs. With some pre-planning, pre-law students can experience education abroad and enhance their perspectives and resumes. This is an excellent opportunity to try something different, make connections abroad, and learn something new!
- Off-Campus Political Science Internship: It is possible to earn credit in association with a political internship anywhere in the world, during fall and spring only and subject to departmental approval. The most common example is US State Department internships. The student enrolls in PS 491 and participates long-distance in the same class as the on-campus students. We have had students in Vienna, Paris, Dhaka, St. Petersburg, and at the US Mission to the UN in New York. Plan ahead! For more information visit the State Department website or contact your advisor.
- Don’t forget! Additional international opportunities exist with the National and International Scholarship programs! To learn more, click here.
Research and Writing Opportunities:
- Research: UIUC is a world-class research institution which means there are plenty of opportunities available for students to develop their research skills. These are incredibly valuable skills to develop prior to law schools and an excellent way to expand your learning opportunities. Consider approaching a faculty member in an area you enjoy, or your academic advisor, to see if any research opportunities exist. This is an excellent opportunity to work closely with faculty, learn new research and writing skills, and contribute to a body of work. The Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research is an excellent resource to explore. The Office of Undergraduate Research provides tools and information on how to find research opportunities, develop your own research projects, and highlights successful undergraduate research projects each year in April.
As always, reach out to the Pre-Law Advising Office for more information on opportunities that might be right for you!