Some of the most powerful people in Washington began their careers as interns on Capitol Hill. Offices on Capitol Hill are flooded with resumes every year from college students eager to learn about the legislative process and make professional contacts in Washington, DC. Most interns work in the personal offices of House and Senate members. Congressional committees and House and Senate leadership offices offer internship opportunities as well.
What's it like to work on Capitol Hill? Here are the answers to frequently asked questions as well as resources to help you find a position.
What are an intern's responsibilities?
Interns usually provide administrative support by answering phones, writing letters, filing, and running errands. An intern on Capitol Hill might be assigned to research issues or pending bills, assist at press conferences or compile information for Congressional hearings.
When are internships available?
The majority of internships on Capitol Hill take place in the summer but many are available year-round.
What qualifications do Congressional Offices look for in interns?
Internships on Capitol Hill are highly competitive. Congressional offices seek students with a strong academic record, experience in student government and community service and leadership skills.
Are there paid internships available?
Most internships on Capitol Hill are not paid.
How do students find affordable housing?
Some programs may help their interns find housing. There are several youth hostels in Washington DC that provide shared housing for students. See a guide to Youth Hostels and Student Housing in Washington DC to learn more about affordable rooms.
For tips on getting a job as a congressional aide, in a government agency, or with a lobbying firm, see How to Find a Lobbying Job in Washington DC.
Capitol Hill Internship Resources
- Congressional Offices - Contact individual Senators and Members of the U.S. House of Representatives about available internships in their Washington, DC offices. Websites for House Members can be accessed at www.house.gov and Senators sites can be found at www.senate.gov.
- Library of Congress "Thomas" Website - This website provides federal legislative information to the public.
- Political Campaigns - A good way to get started in a political career is to volunteer for a political campaign. Volunteering can help students make important contacts that can lead to an internship on Capitol Hill.
- District Offices - Many members of Congress offer internships in their district offices which can also lead to positions in Washington, DC.
- The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) - The nonprofit organization serves hundreds of colleges and universities and helps students locate internships in government, business and non-profit organizations. Internships may be combined with academic seminars, guest speakers and lecturers. The TWC website includes resume posting, housing listings, and internship databases.
- The American Political Science Association - The professional organization for the study of political science offers a wide range of information and programs.
- Washington Internship Institute - This non-profit educational organization offers resources for obtaining internships in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
- The Fund for American Studies - Live, Learn, Intern is a program offered in partnership with Georgetown University combining college coursework with an internship, apartment-style housing, and special events.
- Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH) - This organization helps students find housing close to Congressional offices, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and metro stations.
- USA Jobs - Working for America - The website provides information on federal government job opportunities for students and recent graduates.
- The Congressional Budget Office - This congressional office offers summer internships that provide experience with the federal budget process and policymaking.