Securing an internship or fellowship in Congress can be a dream come true for any college student interested in political science. It presents a unique opportunity to gain firsthand experience working alongside some of the most influential leaders in the country, network with other professionals, and get a feel of the political landscape. However, landing that coveted position in Congress can be challenging. With hundreds of applicants vying for a few spots, it takes effort, patience, and strategy to stand out from the crowd. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to secure an internship or fellowship in Congress.
1. Determine Which Part of Congress to Serve
The first step in securing an internship or fellowship in Congress is to determine which part of Congress to serve. For starters, Congress is divided into two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate. It’s essential to understand their differences, including their distinct organizational structure, goals, and legislative processes. Additionally, one must decide whether to work with a Republican or Democrat member of Congress based on personal values and political affiliations. It’s also advisable to identify policy issues that you’re passionate about to guide your decision-making process.
2. Research and Target Specific Offices
Once you’ve determined which part of Congress to serve, it’s time to research and target specific offices. The best way to go about it is to research and compile a list of roughly 20 prospective offices that match your interests and career goals. Afterward, reach out to the offices and express your interest in interning with their team. It’s crucial to tailor your outreach via phone call or email to grab their attention and display your enthusiasm. Be sure to highlight your pertinent academic background, work experience, and career aspirations.
3. Improve the Application Materials
To increase your chances of getting an internship or fellowship in Congress, your application materials must stand out. You should have a professional-looking LinkedIn profile and resume that showcases your achievements, skills, and passion while demonstrating a thorough understanding of various policy issues. Remember to include a personalized cover letter that explains why you’re interested in working for that particular office.
4. Tips for a Successful Interview
A successful interview is a gateway to secure an internship or fellowship in Congress. It’s crucial to prepare thoroughly by researching the office, its policies, and values. Be on time, dress professionally, and show a positive attitude to the interview panel. It’s also advisable to ask relevant questions and show an interest in participating in the work of the office. Remember, the goal is to display professionalism and demonstrate a genuine interest in the position you’re applying for.
5. Networking Beyond Congress
Securing an internship or fellowship in Congress is only the beginning. Networking opportunities beyond Congress could lead to more significant opportunities in the future. Be intentional about introducing yourself to as many colleagues as possible and attend events outside of Congress, such as conventions, fundraisers, and social events. Maintaining relationships beyond your internship or fellowship role could lead to career mentorship, job referrals, and collaborations in the future.
Securing an internship or fellowship in Congress requires patience, persistence, and strategy. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you’re sure to increase your chances of landing that coveted position in Congress. Remember, it’s essential to determine which part of Congress to serve, research and target specific offices, improve your application materials, prepare for a successful interview, and network beyond Congress. Finally, always use your time effectively and continue to build upon the experience gained in Congress. Good luck!