How (Not) to Get a Job in Congress

Posted on Thursday, Nov 30, 2017

When I was looking at internships in D.C., I looked at a variety of opportunities with many issue areas. I knew that I eventually wanted to do something in Congress, but I wasn’t in a particular hurry to do that. So, I ended up taking an internship at ITAPS, a tech trade union focused on the public sector. I thought that I could easily use the internship as a “jumping off point” to get into Congress.

Unfortunately, I was very wrong. I applied for many congressional jobs during my internship, all of them with the caveat in the job description of “preferred Hill experience.” As I quickly learned, nearly all jobs in Congress want you to have some sort of Hill experience; an internship outside of Congress just isn’t going to cut it. Many mentors and people in the field gave me an answer of “Yeah…you have to do a Hill internship.”

And so here I am, still wanting to work in Congress. It looks like it’s going to be delayed and another unpaid internship seems inevitable. Fortunately, I had a backup plan; I start grad school in January, so any internship is just a bonus. In any case, my point is this: if you want to work in Congress, take an internship in Congress. Very few other internships will suffice.

Luke Dube
IT Alliance for Public Sector
Washington, D.C. | fall 2017