Political Internship: The Dos and Don’ts of Searching for an Internship
Political Internship: What to Know to Land One
A political internship is something revered by many college students, but finding the right one, and then being selected for it, can seem like a daunting challenge. Still, the benefits of working to further the causes you are passionate about and learning the ins and outs of the political world make the pursuit of a political internship worthwhile! Here are three dos and three don’ts for landing an internship in politics.
DO take advantage of career oriented resources on campus. Whether this means speaking with a representative from your campus career center for advice or attending a networking event at your school, college campuses are bustling with individuals who can show you how you may fit into the political landscape!
DO pursue an internship related to a cause that you are passionate about. Whether you care deeply about progressive politics, the environment, or something else, there are political organizations fighting your fight. If you apply to intern for organizations and candidates with missions you can get behind, not only will you be more likely to enjoy the work you do each day, but you will also be more likely to get the position if you let your passion shine through in your cover letter and interview.
DO search for external funding to help bankroll your summer. Internships in politics are often a noble pursuit that entail hard work, but in some cases they can be unpaid. In fact, you are lucky if one pays at all! Still, many colleges and universities offer stipends and grants to students pursuing summer internships in areas that benefit their communities and the world. Additionally, many colleges have programs where you can earn free housing over the summer, whether it be by working for the school part-time or by being selected to participate in a specific program. A political internship can be extremely rewarding, so explore all possible resources for making it happen!
DON’T be deterred by a personal lack of political involvement or experience. While you may not have previous political experience, this should not deter you from applying for an internship in politics. There is so much that goes into the work of a political or advocacy organization; on any given day, you may be working with accounting, marketing, or design! Also, many political internships are looking for students that have more general experience with skills such as research and communication. So, while you can almost certainly find a job that fits your skill set, remember internships are learning opportunities, and you are not supposed to know everything going in!
DON’T fear cold calling (or e-mailing)! Many campaigns or organizations may be willing to take more people on to help spread their message. This may not always result in the most glamorous positions or work (and it likely won’t lead to elite pay), but it certainly can help get you a foothold in the political realm. Also, while you should not be afraid to follow-up, do not hound organizations or it may make them less interested in working with you.
DON’T give up on your job search. Sometimes it feels like you have applied to every job posting related to politics. Trust us when we say you haven’t! New jobs and opportunities pop up in the world of politics every day. Check out our list of job boards for employment opportunities in politics and on campaigns!
Good luck searching for that internship! When you finally find your place in the world of politics, check out some great tools to make sure your organization excels!