Congressional internships are highly sought after positions among college youth, particularly among those who wish to enter a career in politics upon completion of their education. Such internships allow for the meeting of influential members of government and offer unique insight into how business is conducted in Washington, D.C.. As these positions are highly competitive, interested students should do anything possible to get a leg up on the competition.
Internship seasons are the period of activity for congressional interns. There are three seasons, with the spring season being from January to May, summer being June to August, and the fall being from September to December. The summer session is by far the most competitive due to the period of activity as well as the lack of conflict produced with most school schedules. As a result, individuals seeking an internship should consider programs in all three seasons, as the reduced competition in the spring or fall can be a boon to a congressional aspirant.
Individuals reviewing internship applications are more likely to select individuals from schools that have a Congressional internship program in place. This is due to the additional application filters that weed out potential candidates earlier in the process, allowing the selectors to choose from a reduced and highly qualified candidate pool. If one’s school lacks such a program, they may apply directly through the openings list provided by the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, students may choose to apply to organizations operating in Washington D.C. that deal daily with congress and politics though are not affiliated with the government.
Résumé and Letters of Recommendation
When applying to programs, students will be asked to provide a résumé, as well as letters of recommendation. A solid résumé may be the difference between admittance and rejection from an internship program, and as a result individuals should work hard to polish and refine their résumé to the point of perfection. This includes previous internship experience, academic achievement, extracurricular activity relevant to the internship, and any work done during one’s post-secondary education. Letters of recommendation are also asked for and should be glowing in describing the aspiring intern. Letters from professors, department heads, and high-level managerial staff, such as a dean, can be highly beneficial. A copy of one’s transcripts will most likely also be required, and as a result academic achievement of the highest order is typically necessary.
Congressional internships are not limited to Washington, D.C.. Students may seek opportunities through congressional offices within a given state. These positions are often less competitive, and can be pursued directly through contact with a congressman’s office to identify availability and possibility. Due to the reduced level of competition, the requirements for consideration are also less restrictive, allowing for a broader number of individuals to be considered for internship positions. Though not as impactful as a Washington, D.C. internship, these internships do provide a look into congressional politics at the state level, and provide a better understanding of the relationship of the congressman and his or her constituents.
Most congressional interns do not get paid for the services they provide during the 3-4 month experience. As a result, any student considering an internship should be prepared to support him or herself throughout the internship period. Interns may be provided housing for low cost or free based on the state, congressman, or organization he or she may work with. But most costs are not covered and preparations should be made by the individual to cover all the costs accrued over the course of the internship, as the only thing worse than not getting an opportunity is losing it because one could not afford it.
About the Author:
Kami Lebaredian is a researcher and writer for MatchCollege.com, a college information website, which helps students locate colleges and programs right for them. Read more about a career in politics and schools that offer political science or public administration degrees.