The "Best and the Brightest” internship program is an administrative internship program that partners small and/or rural governmental jurisdictions in Colorado with students seeking a Master’s Degree in Political Science through the University of Colorado Denver’s Center for NEW DIRECTIONS in Politics and Public Policy. The program receives financial support and technical assistance from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
The Best and the Brightest internship program offers students the unique opportunity to gain familiarity with and participate in local government operations in Colorado, and to contribute research on social, environmental, and economic issues facing small and rural communities in the American West while working toward completion of a Master’s Degree in Political Science with an area of emphasis in politics and public policy. While the internship experiences differ greatly, the two-year, full-time position with a local governmental jurisdiction at the very least exposes each intern to a wide-range of governmental operations. Interns are compensated for their work with a salary and benefits packages of up to $38,500 per year (benefits packages vary among the jurisdictions). Students are responsible for paying their own tuition.
No previous government experience is required to be eligible for an internship. However, prospective interns must submit an application packet that demonstrates their potential to excel in the program, and must successfully complete the prerequisite course Politics, Public Policy, and Leadership.
The internship program began in 2000 when four Durango-based Master’s Degree students accepted two-year positions with four local jurisdictions in the southwest part of the state: Ignacio; Cortez; Dolores County; and San Juan County. Beginning in 2002, twenty students began two-year internships in the following jurisdictions across the state: Bayfield; Central City; Clear Creak County; Conejos County; Dacono; Dolores County; Durango; Elbert County; Elizabeth; Evans; Georgetown; Holly; Las Animas/Bent County; Milliken; Montrose County; Pagosa Springs; Poncha Springs; Pueblo; Saguache County; and Sheridan. The following jurisdictions hosted interns in 2004-2005: Archuleta County; Berthoud; Costilla County; the City of Montrose; Telluride and San Miguel County; Grand County; Gypsum; Lake County; Fairplay; Golden; Frederick; Windsor; Elbert County; Florence; the City of Pueblo; Kiowa County; and Sterling. Many of these jurisdictions still host these internships today.