Updated: Jun 23
A meaningful internship can be a significant part of landing your dream job in D.C.. An internship differs from a regular job in that it’s meant to be a learning experience offering practical work experience. Students are well-known for taking on internships, but really anyone can do one. One of these opportunities gives the participant the chance to explore a certain career and develop new related skills. For the employer on The Hill, interns bring new and exciting ideas and energy to their workplace. It also helps them determine if you’ll be a good fit for a permanent position in their organization, as it’s not unusual for an internship to lead to a full-time position within the same company. Here are some other reasons internships are important.
They help you know what you don’t want to do as well as what you enjoy. It’s easy to be an observer and think you know what a career is like and that you’ll love it. But until you walk in someone’s shoes, as the saying goes, you really don’t know the realities of a situation. Internships put you on the frontlines in the organizations and positions that interest you. For example, you may be thinking about a public relations career because you get to spend your days communicating with others but after interning at a firm realize there are a lot of meetings to attend and routine work that has to be completed on a daily basis too. Internships make you realize what you do and don’t like to do when you learn these realities of a position.
They connect you with other professionals. When you’re sitting in your chair at school (whether virtually or in person) or working at a job totally unrelated to your desired industry, you’re not making many connections that will get you places down the line. However, when you work in an internship, you’ll have a boss you report to plus other managers you may interact with on a daily basis. These networking opportunities are irreplaceable because not only are you getting to know these people, they are able to see your quality of work firsthand. The connections you make while you’re working as an intern could lead to job opportunities for many years to come.
What are some internships you’ll find in the D.C. area? Following are some areas of internship common for The Hill:
Business/Finance. In this area, hirers look for skills in administration, customer service, project management, and economics. An internship answering the emails and phone calls for a manager of an organization can teach you a lot about customer service and how they oversee their department.
Congressional. For an internship within Congress, one of the best skills you can bring to the table is knowledge about how the systems within the government work. For example, how a bill becomes a law. You’ll learn a great deal about the inner workings of our elected officials and running their campaigns with this kind of internship.
Non-profits. The skills hiring managers are looking for in an intern is fundraising, educating, writing social media content, and event planning. You’ll likely walk away from an internship in the non-profit industry with a broad set of experience of organizing fundraising efforts and giving out information to the public.
Science. Research is conducted in D.C. for various elements that affect Americans, like environmental issues. Organizations are looking for backgrounds in chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics. You’ll leave an internship in a scientific field with a better understanding of how science plays a role in our lives and affects policy decisions.
Academic. Research is also conducted on an academic level as interns are hired to help with creating educational strategies that link the classroom with real-life application. You may be asked to run an educational program for young people, so this is a good opportunity for those interested in teaching.
Foreign policy. International affairs is always a dynamic topic, but even more so recently with the looming threat of war. If you have experience traveling or working overseas, or if you’ve taken classes in foreign affairs, you will be more strongly considered for this type of internship. You may be able to travel as part of your experiences as a foreign policy intern.
Even in a job market where employers are fighting their competition for good candidates, it helps to stand out. Completing internships are one of the best ways to tell a D.C. employer that you can hit the ground running when they hire you. Internships provide a practical experience that is hard to replace. Start searching today to see what internship opportunities might be available in your field.