Working on the Hill: Intern Edition

As graduation approaches for many college seniors, almost everyone is looking for an internship that will help kick start their career. Devon was lucky enough to land a part-time internship with a U.S. congresswoman for her last spring semester. While attending college in North Carolina, Devon balances her studies, job, personal life and internship. She agreed to give us the inside scoop on what she does and how she is able to manage her responsibilities.

Devon is an intern for a communications team for a representative through College to Congress. On an average day, she has a fluctuating workload with different projects popping up throughout the day. It's normally fast-paced with a quick turnaround on projects because even when there isn't much to do, there's always something to do! She primarily assists with tracking media hits, creating social media posts and helping staffers with projects. As an intern, she also has the job of answering the phones. Whenever a constituent calls into the office she works for, she logs their concerns, directs them to resources and lets the senior staff know what people are calling about during the day.

She describes an average day on the Hill as exciting, busy and unexpected. From nine in the morning to five at night, she is assisting the office in any way she can. Although most offices are working remotely due to COVID, she still attends weekly meetings about communications, internship information and occasional legislative briefings. Since the House of Representatives is made up of 435 representatives, there is always something going on. She mentioned that COVID has changed one of her responsibilities: giving tours of the Capitol. Prior to the pandemic, interns would welcome constituents to Washington D.C. and give them a walking tour of the capitol. She says she would have really enjoyed that, but is glad that her office is following COVID guidelines. She also mentioned that remote work has made it easier for her to balance her school and work responsibilities.

People walking down a street that leads to the U.S. Capitol, lots of bare trees in winter. Photo by Maria Oswalt from Unsplash

Devon’s favorite part of her internship is meeting all of the staffers and other interns and continuing to grow her knowledge and network. According to Devon, she has “seriously enjoyed connecting with my other interns and the office staff. It's fun to hear the stories and experiences from staffers, and start creating those networking connections for my career.” However, she did mention it has been difficult to navigate who to reach out to for what reasons, especially since they are working remotely and don't have the ability to just walk across the office to ask a question. Because of that, it can take a while to get a response from her colleagues because there is so much going on virtually, so messages get lost easily.

Computer with spreadsheets Photo by Lukas Blazek from Unsplash

Since Devon is a full-time college student, friend, part-time employee and part-time intern, she has a lot going on. She manages her schedule by organizing her course schedule so that her classes are condensed to a few days in order to leave time for her internship. She also works hard to stay ahead of her assignments for school, in case something pops up during her days interning. She wished she had known more about her personal responsibility to reach out and ask for more work from different staffers in issue areas where she has the most interest. In a remote internship, it's hard to connect with the staffers she doesn’t hear from every day, so she wishes she had known that she was allowed to ask for different work from other staffers earlier in her internship.

When asked what advice she would give to college students looking to work for Congress, she said, “Start looking at internship opportunities and apply for scholarships. There are organizations like College to Congress that help students be able to afford interning on the Hill, so definitely reach out and establish connections as quickly as you can. Intern multiple times, if you can! I would have interned every summer if I knew sooner how much I would learn.”

Working for the largest governing body in the nation is a huge responsibility; without interns, the House would run a lot slower, and would have significantly fewer young minds. Devon’s supervisors always mention how congress would be a mess without interns because even the small projects make a difference. If you are interested in working for the House or Senate, reach out to your representatives and senators; you never know what opportunities might be available!

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