Interning in Washington DC is a fairly obtainable goal for all college students, but it can be difficult to sort out the path to achieve your ideal internship.
Step 1) Identify issues you are passionate about
Are you a LGBTQ+ rights and opportunities advocate, feminist, staunch Second Amendment rights supporter, etc..? Make a list of 3-5 topics that you are interested in and would like to do in-depth research about. The more specific your list is, the easier it will be to identify people and firms who align with your interests.
Example interest list:
1) Second Amendment Rights
2) Environmental Protection
Step 2) Identify your strengths
This is difficult for some people, perhaps ask a parent or mentor what they believe you are best at. These skills will help you to more clearly see what type of internship would be a good fit. Nearly every company takes interns as well as every media source, museum, and government department.
Example skill list:
1) Writing professional emails
2) Researching for papers
3) Talking to strangers
4) Working alone
Step 3) Consider your age and the purpose of taking this internship.
Are you applying to law school in the near future and are simply looking for a resume builder or are you aiming to turn this internship into a job with the end goal of moving to Washington DC permanently? If you want to start a career immediately after taking this internship, then look into whether you can intern into a job at the organization, or if there is a high degree of placement into jobs from the internship program.
If you are planning on interning in DC more than once during the semester/summer, then roughly plan out how many unpaid internships you can afford.
Step 4) What can you afford?
Interning in DC is expensive. Even if your internship is paid, you will likely spend more than you make. You need to decide if the payoff for taking the internship is worth it for your career. It’s common for people to take out loans to pay for their unpaid internship with the expectation that the long run career pay-off will be worth the short-term debt.
If you do need to take out a loan for your internship, consider interning near the end of your college career so you can maintain the connections you make through work.
Here are some articles estimating the cost of interning in DC:
Step 5) Research private lobbies, think tanks, foundations, as well as committees that deal with your areas of interest.
1) My areas of interests are:
Second Amendment rights and Environmental protection.
2) My skills are:
3) I can afford an unpaid internship for:
12 weeks if I rent a dorm room, 6 weeks if I rent an apartment,12 weeks if I get paid.
4) List of organizations that deal with these issues and have offices in DC:
2) Gun Lobby
3) Politician’s that supports guns (3 House 3 Senate)
5) House Committee’s
6) Senate Committee’s
7) Environmental Lobbying group
Step 6) Find out if the organizations take interns.
There is no master list, unfortunately, for undergraduate/graduate level internships in DC. So, the best way to locate an internship is to search: “name of organization” “internship” “DC”, or to locate the organization’s website and comb through there. There may not be a formal internship application, so email the person of contact listed on the website for more information. If you do end up emailing someone from a firm about an internship, then include a cover letter and resume in the email.
Step 7) Organize the list of organizations into this chart
|Issue Area||Organization||Internship position/tasks||Paid (include $ amount ) or Unpaid||Application due date||Application sent||Person of contact|
Step 8) Apply
Apply to as many internships as you can reasonably keep track of. Some applications are much more competitive than others, so cast a wide net with applications.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.