Interning for a Member of Congress

My name is Colin Staske and I am a rising junior majoring in Political Science at the University of Illinois. If you’re thinking of interning in Washington, D.C, I definitely recommend that you start your search as early as possible, that way, you’ll find an internship that suits you the most.

Washington, D.C., is quite the city: from the many different (and free) museums that one can attend, to an eclectic cuisine, boundless opportunities, and sightseeing, the city has something for everyone. The Illinois in Washington program provides you a glimpse of what interning in D.C is like and if living here is for you.

I am currently interning with a Member of Congress and the experience has given me a greater insight into the legislative process ─ I have been lucky enough to research a topic, draft the findings into bill language and send it over to Legislative Council, (the department that actually writes the legislation) to be written into a discussion bill. My task range from answering calls from constituents and passing their messages along, responding to constituent mail, working with the senior staff on a multitude of different projects (press releases, bills, and committee markups). From my experiences, I have come to realise the extent that committees do to ensure the work of Congress continues. Without each committee fully functioning, the legislation itself would never be presented to the full house, to be voted on. I was lucky enough to be place with a Member of Congress that is currently a ranking member of their committee and had always been a policy area that interested me; if you are thinking of interning on the Hill, definitely make sure that you apply to not only Members from your state, but that they are also on committees that interest you.

If you do intern on the Hill, I highly suggest adding the Capital Grapevine to your favorite websites; it’s the best way to know of all the different receptions that occur, where there is a large amount of free food! Most of the time, you won’t even need dinner on the weekdays, if you bounce around to enough of the receptions.

One of my most memorable moments, while in D.C., was when Congressman Davis took us to the Speaker’s Balcony, where you have a view of what it is like on Inauguration Day. It was a breathtaking experience to see the city light up in front of your eyes. Out of all the government buildings, the Capitol building is certainly my favorite.

There has yet to be a dull moment in D.C. for me. Just exploring the city could take your entire duration ─ I recommend researching the area and making a list of all the things that interest you, otherwise, you’ll miss so much.

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