Congressional Intern: Job Description, Duties & Application Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a congressional intern. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and the application process to find out if this is the career for you.

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Would you like the chance to learn more about the work of a U.S. congressperson? The congressional internship program allows college students to provide unpaid administrative support to members of congress and learn more about the work that they do on behalf of constituents. These positions are limited and the selection process is competitive.

Essential Information

Congressional interns work for members of the Senate and House of Representatives. They perform a variety of administrative tasks and have the opportunity to observe Congress firsthand. Most congressional interns are current undergraduate juniors or seniors in college.

Required Education Undergraduate junior- or senior-level standing
Other Requirements Interview, references, transcript, job history
Availability Internship availability limited; application process highly competitive
Salary Most positions are unpaid, but a stipend may be offered in some cases

Job Description

Congressional interns work in the offices of state representatives and members of the Senate. Positions are usually given to students who receive college credit, a living stipend or payment for their work. However, according to a September 2016 report by the Congressional Research Service, most internships with U.S. congressional members' offices, whether in Washington, D.C., or district offices, are unpaid. Interns work with politicians in Washington, D.C., or in their state offices. By observing Congress firsthand, they develop political awareness and job skills. Congressional interns provide administrative assistance to members of Congress and their staff, attend meetings and interface with constituents.

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Duties

Congressional interns assist with a wide variety of administrative tasks. They write correspondence, handle mail and manage phone calls. They work on special projects and assist in planning events. In state offices, interns guide guests who are touring the building. Congressional interns must attend meetings, hearings and briefings to remain informed about current legislative issues. Interns complete research as needed and report findings to their representative.

Interns work not only for congressional representatives, but also for their staff members. They may complete deliveries or assist employees in their daily tasks. Because it is a learning position, congressional interns are exposed to a variety of tasks and must be flexible in their expectations.

Application Information

Congressional internships are offered by a variety of organizations. They can be obtained directly through the office of a state representative or through a specialized institute or training facility. Obtaining a position is competitive. Prospective interns are required to submit an application and cover letter. Often, references, transcripts and job history will also be requested. Most offices require an interview.

Many positions are reserved for students in their final years of college and limited for underclassmen. Others are offered to specific demographics and are not available to all students. These targeted programs often focus on designated issues that apply to the intern's demographic. For example, an internship offered to Native Americans may follow the policies and regulations of tribal law. Other congressional internships are available to all students.

Most congressional internships are unpaid, but stipends may be available for living expenses, and chances are good you'll receive college credit for the work you do. An intern's duties encompass a wide range of tasks including research, administrative and correspondence work, and attendance at meetings. Check with your local state representative for application forms and requirements.

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