The Hill Life: The Intern Guide

May 23, 2012

Welcome Interns! It’s so nice to have you here.  Without you staffers would have to answer their own phones, sort their own mail and give constituent tours.  So allow me to express my sincere gratitude, on behalf of all staffers past and present, for all the time that you will spend this summer doing tedious tasks that we feel are beneath us for little to no pay.

But all kidding aside, every Hill Staffer and lobbyist that I know was once an intern.  The hours are long and the work is thankless, but interning is a valuable experience that will serve you well whether you decide to join us in the marble halls or head back from whence you came.

As is the case every summer, I receive dozens of e-mails from new interns asking how do dress, how to behave and how to turn their internship into a full-time gig.  But this year, instead of repeating myself, I thought I would put together a mix-tape of my greatest hits on the subject of interns.

Welcome Interns! is a post highlighting the basic rules of the road.  It covers what you can expect in the early days of your internship and details some of the things you should keep in mind going forward.

A Parting Word for Capitol Hill Interns covers the qualities that, in my opinion, separate the mediocre interns from the stellar ones.  Basically, it’s a guide on how to make a good impression.

Fashion Advice. If you are a woman and you need advice on how to dress for your internship, check out these two posts: 15 Easy Pieces and Five Shoes Even an Intern Can Afford.  The links are completely out of date, but they still give a general description of how women who are just starting out should be dressing for work on the Hill.

The Job Hunt.  There may come a time when you decide that you want to turn your internship into a permanent position.  Here is some starting advice from a website called Great on the Job.

If you need Hill-specific job search advice, check out this post, which details where to start your search.  The second post in that series talks about how to interpret the job posts to determine where you’ll fit in best.  The the third post in the series talks about how to get your resume ready for the job search.  And the final post discusses some job search dos and don’ts.

Saying Thanks.  I am a big believer in the importance of thank you notes.  So before you depart your internship, spend $5 on some cards and CVS and distribute them accordingly.  This shows good manners and ups the chances that you will be remembered as being a good intern.

Raising Good Interns.  Now, if you’re past your intern days (thank the Lord for that, right?), you need to spend a little time mentoring the next generation.  Because once an intern leaves your office with your Boss’s name on their resume, it is a tacit endorsement of their character and abilities.  So if you don’t take a little time to build a good intern, you may regret it later.

That’s all I have for today.  Be sure to leave any tips that you might have for new interns in the comments.  Goodness knows, they can use all the help they can get.

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  1. GoGoGo says:

    Good idea.

    The “Saying Thanks” link reminded me: a really sweet gift for a graduate or departing intern would be an interview kit, with a nice folder for resumes, a pen and a pack of quality thank you cards. Those things add up!

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