Advice About Interning on Capitol Hill by Thomas Lucic

by tuftsigl
Aug 09

I spent the summer interning for U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). In my last blog post I talked a little bit about the internship itself. This time I thought I might offer some advice about hill internships. If you are interested in policy and considering interning on the hill, but are unsure, I highly encourage you to try it, even if you know you don’t want to work in the legislative branch. I certainly don’t want to work as a staffer, but the bottom line is that Congress is at the center of most policy issues. If you want to work in public health or environmental policy of national security, hill experience can be a major bonus career-wise. It helped me get my internship at the State Department this fall.

So first, how to get in? It can be hard to get hill internships; I’ve been rejected from them before. I’ll say a few words on this based on my own experience and from talking to many other hill interns. First, it is usually far easier to intern for members from your home state. So, if you’ve done some community service in a member’s district or worked on a campaign or interned in local government there, play that up! However, it is also very possible to intern for a member if you’re not from their district. In this case it's probably better if you have expertise in an issue they care about. Also don’t be afraid to intern across the aisle!

And what about once you get to the hill? One of the most important things is to forge a good relationship with your member’s legislative aide(s) for your particular policy issue(s). People grab coffee together all the time on the hill, go for it! If you show really interest and enthusiasm, they’ll probably give you projects to work on. As a ‘hilltern’ you’ll also have to do a lot of office work and interface with constituents a lot, by phone, mail, fax, etc, but these are good skills.

The last thing I’d emphasize is to take advantage of the resources available to you.

  1. Get a reader access card at the Library of Congress, it's right next door and it takes 15 minutes to get a card.
  2. This website: has most briefings and receptions on the hill. Some of them are very interesting and are a great source of free food!
  3. If you go on to the websites of the committees that you are interested in, they will have hearing schedules. Hearings are super interesting.


Good luck!