There are thousands of organizations that hire interns in Washington, DC. There are over federal agencies alone, and 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. That being said, most organizations in the DC area focus in some way the public policies that influence a particular issue. Internships generally involve a fair amount of administrative work with opportunities for more substantive work. You will usually have more opportunities to work one-on-one with staff in the fall and spring than in the summer, due to the length of the semesters and the more frenetic pace of the summer months. Fall and spring internships are generally less competitive than summer internships as well. Most internships in DC are unpaid.
Why Do An Internship?
An internship offers a learning experience that you can’t get in a classroom. An internship is an opportunity:
it can show you the path to the career you have always planned or illuminate unthought-of possibilities. An internship provides you with a new perspective on your life and education. It builds your skills, gives you training and experience, and informs choices that shape the rest of your life.
While other internships may involve only a site and a student, the academic internships offered through IIW connect the student, the internship site, and the university. Our program is designed to deepen your knowledge and experience through reflection. We apply your academic learning in the workplace and analyze your workplace experiences in the classroom and through your coursework, providing a richer, more meaningful experience.
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 nearly as helpful and educational as a semester performing more substantive work for a lesser known organization.
Students may need to intern at an office that was not their top choice, given the competitiveness of DC internships. 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. Summer is the most competitive time for internships, fall the least. In a handful of cases, 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 thousand of internships available, especially when it comes to non-profit/advocacy organizations.
Congressional/Political Party Internships:
Most members of the House and Senate utilize interns in their D.C. offices. Below is a list of the current Illinois Representatives and Senators, but feel free to look at any member of Congress’s website to get more information about how to apply for an internship with them.
IL House Members:
A great place to look for internships in any of the federal agencies is on USAjobs.gov. You can also look for internships at each of the agencies websites. For example, please refer to the links below for information on some of the more popular agencies: