Grassley Op-ed: Jump-start your career with a congressional internship
By Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa
If you want to jump-start your career, receive hands-on professional experience and make connections that will help you get to where you want to go in life, I encourage you to consider applying to my internship program.
For nearly four decades, I’ve welcomed approximately 1,000 students into my Senate offices in Iowa and Washington, D.C. as interns. After their congressional experience, those young people have gone on to excel professionally in a variety of fields, including health care, education, journalism, agriculture and technology. And of course, many went on to be successful in public policy and government service.
My first priority is effectively representing and helping the people of Iowa. I have offices located in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Sioux City and Waterloo. As an intern in one of my Iowa-based offices, you’ll get to see first-hand how congressional offices provide assistance to Iowans. From helping people solve issues they’re having with federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, the VA or the IRS, to helping Iowans apply for federal grants or assisting high school students who want to attend a U.S. service academy, interns working in Iowa will learn the ins-and-outs of constituent service.
Students can also intern at my Senate office in Washington, D.C. It’s an opportunity to experience all that our nation’s capital has to offer. As a Washington-based intern, you will have the chance to attend hearings and briefings, work side-by-side with my staff and learn the process of how an idea can become federal law.
Interns in my Washington office will work in one of three departments: administrative, legislative or press. Students who apply are able to list their department preference. My staff works hard to place students in their desired department, but even when students don’t receive their first choice, they receive an internship experience that will equip them with new skills, connections and information to succeed in a professional setting.
For example, students placed in the press department attend local and national interviews, observe the different ways I communicate with Iowans and learn from my communications staff how to interact with journalists. Students also are able to contribute to my social media channels and hone their writing skills. This is a great opportunity for students interested in journalism, public relations, advertising and general communications.
Students who are placed in the policy department learn how to conduct in-depth research, meet with issue advocates from Iowa and throughout the country and write policy letters. They have the opportunity to dive into issue areas that interest them and get insight into how advocacy and legislative work impact everyday life. This is a great opportunity for students interested in public service, business, law and economics.
Students placed in the administrative and scheduling department are able to help plan events, such as my 99-county meetings. They also learn about the scheduling process of a congressional office and help Iowans plan visits to Washington or get in touch with federal agencies. This is a great opportunity for students interested in human resources, office management and time management/coordination.
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate President pro tempore, my office is a busy one. Interns work in a fast-paced environment that serves as a primer for life after graduation. The more students put into their internship experience, the more they will get out of it. Many interns also form friendships that last long after their internships are complete.
Internships are offered during the spring and fall semesters in a 16-week session. Summer internships are divided into two six-week sessions to accommodate a larger pool of applicants. Many schools offer course credit for internships, so students interested in applying, particularly during the spring or fall semester, should ask their academic advisers about available opportunities. Stipends are available for Iowa students applying for a full time position in the Washington office to help offset travel and living expenses.
Remember, any academic major or field of study may apply. Our offices regularly accept interns from a variety of backgrounds, which enriches the experience and challenges students to think outside the box and consider new ideas.
The future of this nation will soon be in the hands of the next generation. My internship program aims to inspire, teach and prepare our future leaders for the challenges ahead.