I submitted my summer internship applications for various Members of the House and Senate, and I wanted your advice on the process. Should internship applicants follow up on their application? During your time as an intern coordinator, did you feel that applicants who send follow-up emails are pushy or trying too hard? If you do suggest following up, when do you believe is the best time to send such an email?
Senator [Freshman Senator’s] office does not have an intern coordinator or internship program set up yet, but they are currently working on setting that up. I was told to submit my interest by email with a resume and cover letter. Should I follow up in a couple of weeks?
For advice on applying for Capitol Hill jobs or internships, check out our past series, Finding a Hill Job Part I and Part II. I also have a more in-depth post on a few dos and don’ts for jobseekers, and some general tips for Hill interns. But let me tackle your question about following up on an application separately.
If you’re serious about being hired for a position, I highly recommend that you follow up on your resume. Most HR people recommend that you wait one week to follow up. The only exception to this might be if it’s an older job posting. For example, if they posted the ad on March 5th and you sent your resume in on March 20th, you might want to wait just three days unless the ad specifies a closing date.
As to how you should follow up, if the job listing says specifically “no calls, no drop bys,” do.not.call and do.not.drop.by. You might think that you’re showing initiative, but what you’re really doing is showing your potential employer that you can’t follow directions.
However, if it doesn’t say no phone calls, I’ve found that phone calls are sometimes more effective than e-mails. Even if all you do is wind up leaving a voicemail, it might cause the intern coordinator to take a closer look or another look at your resume.
That being said, this is a one shot deal. If you don’t hear back after the first phone call, don’t call repeatedly. One phone call is interested, multiple phone calls is annoying.
If you decide to send an e-mail, make it short and to the point. Reiterate your interest in the position, re-attach your resume and be sure to include your contact information. I also liked it when prospects mentioned something we were doing on the Hill (“I know that the staff is very busy working on the budget resolution”) and/or put the ball for moving forward in their court (“Is there a convenient time that I could call you to discuss my resume?”).
As for best times to call or e-mail, that varies widely between offices. However, most Hill offices are less busy on Fridays and Mondays.
I don’t recommend sending e-mail between 4PM on Friday night and 10AM Monday morning. In my experience , these e-mails get lost in the pile of “catch up work” from the weekend. Instead, send an e-mail after 10AM, but before lunch.
For phone calls, I always found that the mornings were the worst time to call. The most common committee hearing times are 10AM and 11AM, and visiting groups usually schedule Hill meetings for those same times. I’d recommend calling in the early afternoon, sometime between 1:45PM and 2:45PM. That way you catch them after they’ve eaten lunch (hopefully), but before they start count down to the end of the day.
If HR folks, intern coordinators or other Hill staff have something to add, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.