Helpful Ways to Procure A Summer Internship in Washington D.C.

As a political science major, I always wanted to spend a few months interning in Washington D.C..  However, I had studied abroad my junior year and it wasn’t really feasible to graduate on time and do both.  So around winter quarter senior year, I decided that I would move to DC immediately after graduating UCLA and participate in UCDC, an internship program affiliated with UC California schools.  Here began my amazing journey interning with the Office of Administration, one of the 12 agencies within the Executive Office of the President.

 

 

Tending the White House Garden
Tending to the White House Garden

 

 

The first and most important step in this whole process is actually obtaining an internship.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the easiest thing to do because summer internships in Washington D.C. are extremely competitive.  Don’t just show up expecting to find something by walking in off the street with your resume.  You should plan on applying to at least 15 internships, if not more.  I applied to about 15, and only heard back from one.  Luckily, it was the one I wanted and it turned out to be an incredible experience.

 

If you are wondering how is it even possible to find 15 relevant internships to apply to, you have to do your research.  If you type “internships Washington D.C.” into Google or Yahoo, the main pages that come up are for websites with programs that guarantee internships, but you have to pay for them.  And they typically charge a lot of money.  So why not get one for free?  Most universities have a career website with pages dedicated to DC internships.   Many are filtered into categories such as think tanks, government agencies, art and museums, etc.  You should also check out your college’s career center.  The career specialist should have some good advice on which internships people at your school have had luck with obtaining in the past.  Hopefully, your career counselor is helpful with suggestions in regards to your particular interests.  This blog is also a great resource for both jobs and internships currently available in Washington D.C.

 

Looking through all of these databases is probably a little daunting.  So I would suggest making a list of 3 to 4 subjects that interest you and really focus on finding internships related to those topics.  That way, you can narrow your google search and find more relevant information with specific keywords.

 

White House lawn during OA internship
Standing on the White House lawn

 

So how did I get an internship with the Executive Office of the President?  I started out my internship search completely clueless.  After extensive research, I saw that there was a White House internship available.  Of course,  I started envisioning what it would be like to work in the White House.  Then I looked at the application process.  It is, understandably, very intensive.  Since I would have needed to obtain multiple letters of recommendation and the deadline for summer had passed, I had to seek out other options.  After scouring the website, I realized that there are actually 12 agencies within the Executive Office of the President including the White House, Office of Management and Budget, United States Trade Representative, and the office that I worked in, Office of Administration.  

Once you find an agency that suits your interests and talents, see if there are any internship opportunities within that agency.  The Office of Administration lists their internships on the USAJobs.com website while the United States Trade Representative has their internship information directly on their website.  I know that the Office of Management and Budget as well as the Office of Science and Technology Policy have internship programs too.  If you are contemplating an internship with the White House Office, check out the requirements herePlease note that the internship varies during each Presidency, so if you are applying for Spring 2017, there will be a new process based on who is elected President in November 2016.

 

West Wing Entrance EOP internship
West Wing Entrance

 

All of that research and time spent filling out applications is absolutely worth the effort.  Spending the summer in a vibrant city like Washington D.C. was definitely a highlight of my life thus far.  Along with the awesome perks of working at the Executive Office of the President, it is so enriching to be able to live in the capital of the U.S., meet other like-minded people, and explore a brand new city.   Interns have the opportunity to attend lectures with influential leaders on a regular basis as well as happy hours, special events, and cultural gatherings.  For a complete guide to Washington D.C., check out my blog post here.

 

 

Have you had an internship in Washington D.C.?  What are your tips for applying?  Please share in the comments below!

 

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