Over the summer, Cameron, a Government major, interned for the Republican National Committee in Washington D.C. Earlier in the year, he had attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. After speaking with its representatives, Cameron decided he preferred the RNC to the other organizations. He completed an application and, after conducting a phone interview, received an interning position. He considers his two months on The Hill as the greatest experience he’s had yet!
Some words of advice: work hard but don’t be afraid to socialize. There’s always the handful of interns who work their chops off, rarely stopping to get to know their coworkers. Although I have respect for their work ethic and desire to impress, I can’t help but realize the disservice they’re doing to themselves by failing to network. Fortunately, the majority of the other interns and I expressed the same long-term goals: to continue interning over the summers, to attend a graduate program, and, ultimately, to settle in D.C. Consequently, most of us realized the potential benefits of networking amongst ourselves. After all, I reasoned, these were the same people that may be helping me get a job one day.
I was fortunate enough to work with such a great group of interns. As a result, the networking happened organically. We went to Starbucks daily (sometimes two-times a day!), ate lunch at the Longworth House Building, and attended social events around town. To further emphasize the importance of networking as an intern, let me offer this maxim, “It’s not the grades you make; it’s the hands you shake.”
Unfortunately, the vast majority of internship positions are unpaid, and, without meticulous planning, you may find yourself spending too much on food and other essentials. Before leaving for The Hill, I spent roughly $300 on Sam’s Club delights like Chef Boyardee, Mac n Cheese, cereal, and various snack packs. However, at the end of the two months, more than half of the supply remained. Why? D.C.’s receptions. I took advantage of Cloture Club, an online calendar of events. Sponsored by lobbying firms, trade and interest groups, and embassies, these events are organized to attract all kinds of Hill-goers. All receptions have food and offer networking opportunities to boot. There’s no reason to pay for dinner every night of the week when you’re in D.C.!
To find internships in politics, make a MyUCS account today and access the Internships-USA database. For more internship information, visit our internship page or read the first post in this series.