Congressional Internship? Why Not?
A career in government, just the career path that every Babson student wants to pursue, right?… Not quite. Throughout my internship search and even during my internship, I quickly learned how unpopular a career in government and the public sector was among Babson students. Most of my classmates would rather lead a fruitful career in one of the core business concentrations or become a successful entrepreneur. It is very rare for me to meet someone at Babson who wants to work in the public sector. After all, why would you want to work for a government with such a low approval rating and take a huge pay cut while doing so? Plus, why would anyone come to a business school to go into government? These were the sort of questions I had to answer when I started my internship search back in the winter of 2014.
Regardless, the majority of my internship opportunities were for government officials: a district attorney, senator, and congressman. After much consideration and thinking about what I wanted to do with my summer, I decided to accept the internship with Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania’s 13th District. Although I plan to concentrate in Finance and Accounting during my years as a Babson student, my ultimate aspiration is to attend law school and enter the workforce as a corporate lawyer. With this in mind, I felt that a congressional internship would further my knowledge of legislation and help me establish a network with officials and political activists within my community. While those were the reasons why I took on a congressional internship, here is why you should consider interning for a legislator:
Expand Your Network
Unlike many other internships, a major aspect of being a legislative intern is that a lot of your work will be done outside the office. I don’t mean that you will be getting lots of homework, rather, I mean that you will be attending several events and outings as part of the office. Because these events are well-attended by other officials and activists within the community, it is a great way to meet people and develop your presence within the community.
Provide Support to Your Community
As a congressional intern, a lot of your work will involve assisting constituents resolve their cases with federal agencies. While a constituent may not have much success on their own, you can help expedite the process by acting as an intermediary for them. Obviously, not every issue is a life or death situation; however, when you run into a case that could severely alter the course of a constituent’s life, your help becomes that much more valuable to them.
While most congressional interns are unpaid, the amount of knowledge and experience you gain through your work is well worth it. Because the office and staff members know what sacrifices you are making in order to perform an unpaid internship, they are willing to treat you better and attempt to help your career in any way possible. In the office in which I worked, many of the staff-members were former interns for the congressman.
Of course, if you have no interest in politics or government, you probably should not bother seeking a congressional internship. However, if you have enough of an interest in the field but are hesitant due to your major, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. One thing you will need to get over is the fact that you will probably be the only business major in the office (most staff members and interns are political science majors). Ultimately, don’t let others’ opinions affect how you wish to spend your summer. Sometimes, trying too hard to be different leads to the same old boring path.