Continue your sign in
Congressional internships offer unparalleled opportunities to get involved on both the legislative and constituent sides of political work. Congressmembers maintain offices in Washington D.C. and in their home district/state. So, when you’re considering congressional internships, you should consider applying to both the Washington D.C. office and the member’s home district/state office(s). While each internship program is managed independently, the office in which interns work will likely influence their day-to-day assignments.
Connecting people with their democracy is a central responsibility of any elected official– especially one serving in Congress. District and State Office Interns play a critical role in strengthening this connection. Many senators and representatives in larger districts typically have multiple offices across the districts/state they serve. In District and State Offices, interns are operating directly within their employer’s constituency. Given this location, interns tend to be responsible for engaging with the inquiries, concerns, and suggestions of constituents in the area. Interns will typically take calls from constituents, record feedback, and report the feedback to the office managers. These calls may include a constituent’s opinion on a certain piece of legislation, their general opinion on the direction of the country, or a general political concern.
Other constituent calls may involve issues with federal agencies or personal problems with the government that they’d like to resolve. Some examples include tax issues with the IRS, issues with receiving benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, immigration issues, or problems involving other federal agencies. Congressional offices help constituents resolve their issues with federal agencies. Assistance with these matters is referred to as “casework” and is the main service provided by District/State Offices.
If you like talking to constituents, hearing the concerns of others, and helping resolve issues with federal government entities, then working in a District/State Office may be a great opportunity for you.
Regardless of the location of your congressional internship, the main role of congressional interns is typically to answer phone calls and engage with constituents. However, given the Washington D.C. Office’s proximity to the Capitol and other legislative institutions, there are more opportunities for D.C. interns to engage with policy, legislation, and congressional committees. A typical day for a congressional intern in D.C. might include taking constituent phone calls in the morning, attending a legislative briefing in the middle of the day, and conducting research and writing memos for the staff and congressmember in the afternoon.
Location, location, location! Working on Capitol Hill also has a bounty of opportunities that add to an intern's experience. There are many networking events, trainings, and leadership programs available to Washington D.C. Office interns all year round.
Congressional offices typically offer fall, spring, and summer internships. The deadlines to apply typically include: (1) a July/August deadline to apply for fall internships, (2) an October/November/December deadline to apply for spring internships, and (3) a March/April deadline to apply for summer internships.
For a more comprehensive look at what a congressional internship entails, check out this report from the Congressional Research Service.
Sara and Salina are identical twin undergraduate students at Ivey and Queen’s Commerce, Canada’s top business school, and part-time YouTubers who love to create content and meet new people!
Preparing for interviews is vital for job search success and eventually getting the job of your dreams. Despite doing hundreds of interviews, there is always room for improvement, so here are our top 6 tips that we use before every interview:
Hundreds of applicants apply for one role, so what makes you different from them? The easiest way is to show your interviewer that you’ve done your homework. Go beyond Google and dive into the history of a company, their mission, company culture, what their audience is saying about them and above all, how the role you are applying for impacts the company.
Don’t be caught off guard by the “why do you want to work with us?” question. It is one of the most common interview questions—so be prepared for it! Be sure to polish a well-thought-out and articulated answer ahead of time.
With so many applicants, a good word from an employee goes a long way. Connect and chat with current or past employees through a quick filtered search on LinkedIn and get the inside scoop. When chatting with these individuals, you want to focus on the small details that are personal that you can bring up in your interview and that no other candidate can mention. Referencing conversations you had with current and former employs shows you did your research and went above and beyond to learn more about the company.
Along with the “why” question, the 3 common types of interview questions are behavioral, technical, and situational. Behavioral questions touch upon your behavior and how you react in given situations. Employers want to use these questions to evaluate how well you can perform under certain circumstances. Examples of these questions include “Tell me about a time you faced a challenge in the workplace” or “Have you ever faced failure, and if so, how did you react to it?”
Technical interview questions are often the least common in entry-level jobs and are more frequent in specific industries than others. Technical questions test applicants' hard, quantifiable skills. Some examples include “Guide me through this…” or questions about certain industry-specific tasks/tests.
Finally, situational questions focus on the hypothetical future. For example, “How would you act if a coworker is not pulling their weight?” These questions test your ability to think on your feet and test analytical and problem-solving skills.
If you know your interviewer's name, search them on Google, LinkedIn or social media. Find common interests or anything you can bring up in conversation to make a deeper impression of yourself when it comes time to interview.
This final tip may seem minor but be sure to prepare a few questions about the company, this role or anything you can think of that you can ask your interviewer at the end of your interview. You’re allowing yourself to ask unanswered questions one-on-one, boosting your engagement and impression of yourself towards the interviewer. Never leave your interview without asking at least one question!
These are only our top 6 tips amongst many, but if you incorporate these, you’ll for sure see an improvement in how you feel leading up to your interview. Get grinding!
If you found this blog helpful and would love to learn more, feel free to check out our YouTube channel, “The Guo Twins” for everything related to university, student life, and growth!
Aaron Schorr is a junior at Yale University. Last summer, he interned at SIGNAL, a think tank. Upon graduation in 2024, he plans to pursue a career in public service or law.
Last summer, I worked as a research intern for SIGNAL, an Israeli think tank focused on Sino-Israeli relations and China’s position in the Middle East. Also known as policy institutes, think tanks are organizations that research, study, and provide information and advice on specific policy and scientific subject areas.
As an intern at a think tank, I really enjoyed the style of work and research that went on at SIGNAL. SIGNAL conducts research in two general types of ways: (1) government offices and private sector companies contract SIGNAL to conduct research on specific subject areas, and (2) SIGNAL conducts independent exploratory research into areas that may be interesting to its clientele. Accordingly, some of my research topics were given to me (i.e., assigned from government and private sector inquiries), but much of my work was actually independent exploration into new areas – subject to the guidance of my supervisor and the head of the organization. Some of the topic areas that I researched included cryptocurrency, China’s role as a conflict mediator, and the potential risks of Chinese involvement in Israeli infrastructure projects. Typically, I would go through my research projects by reviewing Israeli and international media articles about the topic, formulating a hypothesis about the topic in question, and challenging it using the information I found. Once this process was complete and I had produced a well-researched document with a claim I could defend, I would work with my supervisor to ensure the work was fit for publishing, and hand it over to the client.
This was an incredible opportunity for a student of my standing to conduct independent research, present it, defend my findings, and have smart and qualified people go over it and give me feedback. With such a broad organizational remit, there were many directions for me to choose and thereby develop my understanding of the world of international affairs. With little exposure to Chinese politics prior to this internship, my time at SIGNAL certainly helped me make sense of an important and often complex topic.
Think tanks can present new policy ideas, develop cutting edge research, spark vital public debate on key issues, and influence policy changes. But in a broad and loud marketplace of discussion (like in politics and media), it can be difficult for a think tank to get its ideas and research into the spotlight and to get people to listen. Working for a think tank means that nobody has to listen to what you have to say, and you can be caught in a strange limbo between the private and public sectors, with neither one fully understanding you. I had the opportunity to sit in on meetings with clients from both sectors, and I got the impression that I would personally enjoy being on the opposite side of the table in both cases. After this experience, I feel my impact could be felt more strongly in government, where your position and mission are very clearly defined.
Think tank work also means a lot of chasing after donors and clients, constantly having to explain why donors should fund you, and explaining why clients should listen to what you have to say. While I enjoyed the research side of my time at SIGNAL, I did not enjoy donor-chasing. In addition, it was difficult to gauge the impact of research that had not been commissioned by a specific client, since we didn’t know who would read it. On the contrary, I felt our client-requested research was far more impactful. Working for SIGNAL was a good opportunity for a college internship, and I’m glad I had it. I gained valuable skills, developed my worldview, and learned a lot – including that I probably don’t want to work for a think tank! Nonetheless, I’m glad I had this experience to learn more about what I want to do—and don’t want to do—in my career.