IIW participants find their own internships, but IIW will assist you in securing one.  In general, there is more demand for interns in the fall and spring than IIW has students.  The summer is much more competitive.  If you plan on attending during the summer term, please be prepared to devote a good deal of time to obtaining an internship, and to apply for internships early and often.  There are thousands of organizations that hire interns in Washington, DC.  For instance, there are over 400 federal agencies alone.
In addition, there are organizations that focus on every type of issue and concern, such as international relations and foreign policy, national security, economics, health care, social services, law, entertainment, real estate, education, STEM, etc.  Most organizations in the DC area focus in some way the public policies that influence a particular issue.  Internships generally involve administrative work with opportunities for more substantive work.  You will usually have more opportunities to work one-on-one with internship staff in the fall and spring semesters than in summer due to the semester length and the more hectic pace of the summer months.  Most internships in DC are unpaid.

Why Do An Internship?

An internship offers a learning experience that you cannot get in a classroom, and provides you with a new perspective on your career goals and education. It builds your skills, gives you training and experience, and informs choices that shape the rest of your life.  IIW alumni often describe their IIW participation as one of the best experiences they had in college, and many alumni have found that their IIW experiences have helped them network and secure employment.

Where will I intern, and how can I find an internship?

Illinois in Washington does not place students in internships, but we assist you in finding a position.  We send you announcements about internship openings, notify you of organizations that work in your areas of interest, and review your cover letters and resume.  There is an organization for every interest in Washington.  It is important to start applying for internships as soon as possible.  Ideally, you should begin applying for internships well before even applying for IIW.  Some employers will make internship hiring decisions a year or more in advance, so you will want to research internship opportunities at your earliest convenience.  The most common internships for IIW students are with members of Congress.  You can find a list of Illinois Members of Congress at  Please check their offices’ individual websites for application instructions and deadlines.  Members of Congress from other states have also hired IIW students.  And, many students obtain internships that are not associated with Congress.  We encourage students to frequently visit websites like,, and to search for internship positions.  A list of federal agencies is available here.  Additional information and links about internship options are below.

What will my internship schedule be like in Washington?   

You will intern full-time at your internship site (for example, 9 AM to 6 PM or 8:30 AM to 5 PM), Monday through Thursday for the fall and spring semesters.  For the summer semester, you will work five days/week and take classes during the evening.  For the fall and spring, you will have classes on Fridays during the day and, for most spring and fall students, on Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 pm.  Internships in the fall and spring semester must last at least 12 weeks, and summer internships must last at least 8 weeks.  Internships must start no later than two weeks after the first day of class, and you must work at least 30 hours/week at your internship.  You will work directly with your employer to set your hours and other working conditions.  Please notify IIW if your internship schedule does not meet IIW requirements so that IIW can determine what adjustments, if any, can be made to accommodate your schedule.


With the abundance of internships in Washington, DC, there is a high likelihood of getting a job that is a good fit for your career and academic goals.  You should expect to apply for at least 20 internships, and possibly more.  While you may apply to some high-profile organizations, please keep in mind that the smaller organizations often offer internships that are less competitive, and offer more substantive work and opportunities to work one-on-one with staff.  A semester performing administrate work for a high-profile organization may not be as helpful and educational as a semester performing more substantive work for a lesser known organization.
Given the competitiveness of DC internships, students may need to intern at an office that is not their top choice, . Every student who has participated in IIW has found an internship.  You need to plan to apply to internships early, prior to applying to IIW.  On occasion, students have found internships after arriving in DC.  Below are some of the places where students have either interned or applied, please note these are only some of the thousands of internships available, especially when it comes to non-profit/advocacy organizations. Please research internship opportunities on websites like, and to help with their internship search.

Congressional/Political Party Internships

Federal Agency Internships

Think-Tank Internships

Non-Profit/Advocacy Organization Internships

Media Outlet Internships

STEM Internships

U.S. State Department – Brochure