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Congressional Internship Program: Application & Timeline

The program is open to all majors with an interest in government, public policy and Capitol Hill careers and who meet the following criteria at the time of application:

  • Must have completed 60+ credit hours and be a rising Junior, Senior or graduate/law student at the time of application.
  • Must have at least a 3.0 and be in good standing with the University of Tennessee.
  • Seniors graduating the semester of application are also eligible to participate.


Bob Corker and student

Application Materials

To apply, please submit your application (resume, written responses and letter of recommendation) via Hire-A-VOL available in MyUTK by the appropriate deadline for your desired internship semester. Your letter of recommendation should come from a professional reference who can speak to your professionalism, communication skills, dependability, leadership and public service. Note: Please have your reference email their letter to Stephanie Kit, Director of the Center for Career Development, at smkit@utk.edu. Letters of recommendation can also be submitted in person at the Center for Career Development during our regular operating hours.

Application Instructions 

Step One: Log into your Hire-A-VOL account and search for the Congressional Internship Program.

Step Two: Read the description, taking note of the requested documents and short answer and essay questions. Make sure your reference emails their letter of recommendation or submits it in person.

Step Three: Upload the requested documents via the My Account menu option in your Hire-A-VOL account. Find the My Documents header and upload your resume and essay answers. The essays should be uploaded under the Writing Sample category.

Step Four: Return to the Congressional Internship Program posting information. Click on the button that says “Request Interview,” and choose the documents you would like to submit for the Congressional Internship Program. Click “Request Interview” again, and submit your application for review!

Interview Selection Process

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of faculty, staff and students. Selected candidates will be invited to interview for the internship program during the designated week for the internship semester.

Placement Process

Selected nominees will be notified following the week(s) of interviews. After notification, the student and program contacts will work together in individual meetings and on-going email communication on the following:

  • Applications to individual legislative offices including resume and cover letter review
  • Preparation for interviews with staff from legislative offices
  • Decision-making and negotiation of final placement offers with legislative offices
  • Completion of UT required paperwork (i.e., Stipend Conditions and Terms; and when applicable, Academic Credit Request and Internship/Co-op Status forms)

NOTE: The placement process can last a few weeks as all the legislative offices vary in their process and timeline. It is imperative that nominees stay in regular contact with the program contacts during this time. Failure to respond to emails or phone calls, missed appointments, etc. will jeopardize your opportunities to submit applications on time, receive placement offers, and/or complete UT documentation by deadlines.

Fall 2017 Dates

Fall Internship Dates: September – December (exact start and end dates are negotiated by student and legislative office)

Spring 2018 Dates

Information Session: September

Application Opens: August 2017

Application Deadline:  September 2017

Applicant Interview Dates (UT Committee):  Mid-Fall 2017

Placement Process: October-December  (length of time to secure a placement varies by student and legislative office)

Spring Internship Dates: January – May (exact start and end dates are negotiated by student and legislative office)

Legislative Offices’ Deadlines and Requirements

Each office’s individual procedure varies, but typically you will apply with the following: Resume, Cover Letter, and 2-3 References. Some offices also require an online application form, writing sample and recommendation letters from your references.  Deadlines also vary; it is recommended to check each site to which you intend to apply and plan to submit applications at least 2 months prior to the desired internship session.

Roe, Phil R http://roe.house.gov/constituentservices/internships Application: Call for Application Instructions
Duncan Jr., John J. R https://duncan.house.gov/services/internships Application: Online Form, Resume, Cover Letter and References
Fleischmann, Chuck R http://fleischmann.house.gov/services/internships Application: Downloadable Form. Email completed Form with Resume
DesJarlais, Scott R https://desjarlais.house.gov/services/internships/congressional-internship-application Application: Contact Office for Application Instructions
Cooper, Jim D https://cooper.house.gov/services/internships Application: Online Form, Resume, Cover Letter, two Letters of Recommendation

Deadline: Summer = 3/18/17; Fall = 7/22/17; Spring = 12/9/17

Black, Diane R https://black.house.gov/serving-you/internships Application: Email Resume & Cover Letter
Deadline: Summer = 3/15/17; Fall = 7/15/17; Spring = 11/15/17
Blackburn, Marsha R http://blackburn.house.gov/constituentservices/internships.htm
Application: Contact the Office for more Information. Email Resume & Cover Letter
Kustoff, David R https://kustoff.house.gov/services/internships
Application: Online Form, Resume & Cover Letter
Cohen, Steve D https://cohen.house.gov/services/internships
Application: Email Resume, Cover Letter & Transcript

Deadline: apply at least two months before the desired semester

Lamar Alexander R http://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/internships Application: Downloadable Form. Email completed Form with Resume

Deadline: Summer: 4/7/17; Semesters: Rolling but recommended 1 ½ -2 months prior

Bob Corker/Foreign Relations Committee (Majority) R http://www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/internships Applications: Downloadable Form. Email completed Form with Resume

Deadline: Spring: 10/29/16; Summer: 1/28/17; Fall: 7/8/17

Help Committee/Majority http://www.help.senate.gov/chair/internships
Application: Email Downloadable Form and Resume, Cover Letter, Writing Sample and two Recommendation Letters.

Deadline: Summer: 4/7/2017


“No school produces brighter, more motivated, and harder-working students who are better prepared for life after college than the University of Tennessee. Senator Alexander couldn’t be more pleased for this office to participate in the UT Congressional Internship Program—he and his staff benefit from the skills these interns bring to their service to the people of Tennessee. I’m a proud UT alum and a former congressional intern, and I’m excited to be working with this program to offer internship opportunities that open doors and help prepare UT students for life after college.

– Misty Marshall, Operations Director for Senator Lamar Alexander & Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

The UT nomination committee does not pick students based on their political preference.  We take students who we feel will thrive in DC and whose career goals will be positively impacted. However, our program is a nomination with a scholarship (upon final placement) and the legislative offices have the final decision regarding which nominees they will ultimately accept.  In addition to experiential and educational qualifications, many times the decision is influenced by the district in which you reside, if you are registered with a political party, and if there is a congruency of political philosophy. Now is the time to determine where you stand politically; you will be working to support the views of the legislature and Constituents, and therefore, a good fit is important to your experience.

In preparation, you are encouraged to review the resources below to learn about the senators and representatives. At the least, you will want to know in which district you reside – some offices give preference to applicants from their own districts. You are also encouraged to review their political affiliations and viewpoints and consider how they compare to your own. Additionally, you may want to take a look at the committees on which they serve, especially if they hold a position such as “chair or vice chair” as you may assume some of your work could be related to the responsibilities on these committees. In some cases, interns are selected specifically for committee work (e.g., Senate HELP Committee).

Students may also want to investigate additional DC government internship possibilities prior to and during application. If an independently arranged internship meets specific guidelines, the selection committee will grant the scholarship to a student nominated for the Congressional Internship program.

Members of Congress/Legislative Branch

United States Government

The Internship Experience and Learning Opportunities

Congressional Interns work full-time (at least 30 hours per week/3-5 days per week). The Tennessee Congressional Delegation, with nine representatives and two senators, provides the core of placements. However, other recent placements have included the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The internship experience can vary depending on placement. While the experience can often include general office work, it can also include a range of higher level daily tasks (including but not limited to):

  • Fielding constituent inquiries through e/mail and phone calls
  • Giving tours of the Capitol
  • Researching policy issues
  • Compiling/distributing documents
  • Writing reports/memos
  • Tracking legislation
  • Attending hearings/briefings related to the office/organization’s interests
  • Engaging in special projects

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Objective I: Civic Engagement

Students will:

  • enhance understanding of public policy and governance procedures and their impact on our state;
  • demonstrate appreciation of the civic engagement process and how diversity and varying viewpoints impact public policy; and
  • gain knowledge of the organizational culture and processes of a political office.

Objective II: Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Students will:

  • apply prior learning (e.g. classroom or experiential) to analyze issues, make decisions and overcome problems in a professional setting;
  • acknowledge and apply the input and constructive feedback of colleagues and supervisors; and
  • assess their personal method for budgeting finances (i.e. stipend) for a defined period of time.

Objective III: Communication

Students will:

  • develop strategies for communicating effectively, verbally and nonverbally, in a professional setting (i.e., relaying messages efficiently and suitably to the situation and audience and displaying awareness of sensitive issues, exhibiting standards of diplomacy, tact and confidentiality).

Objective IV: Collaboration and Leadership

Students will:

  • employ personal leadership and teamwork style with colleagues and constituents representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints to achieve goals.

Objective V: Career Management and Professionalism

Students will:

  • appraise personal skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to career and educational goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth;
  • practice proper etiquette and attire in a professional setting; and
  • enhance professional networking skills and contacts.

*The Congressional Internship’s learning outcomes are based upon the Division of Student Life Learning Outcomes and National Association of Colleges and Employer’s Career Readiness Competencies for Students.

Credit Options

UT Knoxville students with course work in political science who are awarded a Congressional Internship may apply for 3 hours of POLS 494 Internship credit.  Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC) is the only grading allowed for 494. Students may also consider POLS 492 Off-Campus Study credit for variable hours (3-9), which may be counted toward the electives in the Political Science major. In both cases, the student is required to meet with the Political Science department for approval.

Academic Credit Information

Note: Students will be charged regular UT tuition and fees for academic credit. See Financial Information regarding academic credit.

Student Status

Students participating in fall and spring semester internships who elect to receive no academic credit will be required to complete internship/co-op status paperwork to maintain their student status at the University of Tennessee while away on internship. Program contacts will provide guidance and appropriate paperwork if applicable.

The Congressional Internships are unpaid and therefore, nominees of the UT Congressional Internships are provided a stipend to offset the cost of housing and other living expenses in DC. Scholarships are in the amount of $5,000 for summer sessions and $7,500 for semester sessions.

When budgeting, interns should consider housing, transportation, living expenses, and some entertainment or side trips.   Past interns have stated that the scholarship amounts are a good estimation of the amount required but keep in mind that some interns will spend less by actively managing their budget, while others will spend more based on discretionary expenses or additional class registration fees.  Below are general budgeting guidelines:

Housing Cost in DC

There are many common housing options for interns in DC but the final decision for UT interns is at your discretion. Housing is typically estimated around 2-3,000 for summer and 4-5,000 for semester.

Weekly Miscellaneous Expenses in DC

The amount of money required for any given term in Washington, D.C. will vary greatly from student to student depending on one’s lifestyle and habits. It is generally suggested that interns to budget for about $150-$175 per week on miscellaneous living expenses, including food, transportation in D.C., entertainment, etc. Interns are also encouraged to take advantage of the fully equipped kitchens offered in many of the housing options. By grocery shopping and cooking at home rather than frequently eating out, an intern can considerably reduce the cost of living. Also, keep in mind that many of the activities in Washington (including touring the monuments, visiting Smithsonian museums, etc.) are free!

Transportation to DC from Knoxville

Specifically, when considering transportation costs to DC, remember airfare typically runs about $500+ while bus fares can be significantly less. *Students are discouraged from bringing their own cars due to the parking difficulties and costs in DC.

Academic Credit (if applicable)

UT Tuition is determined each year by the Board of Trustees. For the upcoming academic year please see the cost per credit hour at: http://onestop.utk.edu/your-money/tuition-fees/

Note: Should an intern elect to receive academic credit and is authorized to do so by their academic department, they would calculate their tuition according to number of hours requested.

Housing

Things to Consider/Important features in looking for an apartment:

  • Location near Metro/Bus stop (Note: Union Station (RED Line) is closest to Senate) Parking needed/available
  • Maximum occupancy per room
  • A short-term lease
  • Security
  • Furnished or unfurnished
  • Convenience to services important to you; grocery stores, laundromats, metro/bus Maintenance within living area
  • Suggestion: see photos BEFORE paying deposit or full rent

Various Housing Options:

Other Helpful Websites:

Transportation

Washington is served by three airports and an AMTRAK train station. Washington Reagan National is by far the closest airport to downtown DC and the only airport that is served by METRO.

Getting to and from Washington:

Getting around Washington:

Public transportation in Washington extensive with rail and bus service:

DC Neighborhoods

  • Downtown, located between the Capitol and White House north of Pennsylvania Avenue, Downtown is a newly revitalized district with the Convention and MCI Centers, theaters, restaurants, hotels, and stores
  • Dupont Circle is a vibrant neighborhood adjacent to downtown and is home to many shops, restaurants and private art galleries
  • Georgetown, located west of Dupont Circle, is a famous historic district, partly residential and partly commercial, home to Georgetown University and hugely popular nightlife, restaurants, and shopping
  • Adams-Morgan, is northeast of Dupont Circle up 18th Street and is famous for its eclectic nightlife and its wide array of ethnic eateries
  • Kalorama,  located northwest of Dupont Circle along Massachusetts Avenue’s embassy row (Washington’s ambassadorial quarter) is full of beautiful mansions and handsome town houses
  • Foggy Bottom, south of Dupont Circle, is home to George Washington University, the Kennedy Center, and many international organizations, including the World Bank and the State Department
  • Cleveland Park and Woodley Park comprise the Connecticut Avenue corridor, which is home to many shops and restaurants. The National Zoo and Washington National Cathedral are found in these neighborhoods
  • Alexandria, Virginia, with its beautiful water-front Old Town, is a historically preserved district with tons of shopping and nightlife, easily accessible by the metro.

Local Media

Tourist Information

Historic Sites and Monuments

Washington is home to many historic sites. Take the time to visit those that are well known in addition to seeing some places off the beaten path.

  • The National Mall holds most of the top sights: The Washington Monument; the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt Memorials; the Vietnam and Korean Memorials, and much more.
  • The US Capitol, its associated buildings, and surrounding grounds offer up lots of history. Across the street are the three buildings of the Library of Congress as well as the Supreme Court.
  • Arlington, Virginia hosts a large number of sights, especially Arlington National Cemetery with its Veteran’s memorials, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Kennedy grave sites, Iwo Jima Memorial, and Carillon. The Pentagon is also nearby.

Other historic sites to visit:

Museums and Galleries

The Smithsonian Institution is a collection of museums that offers one of the most comprehensive bodies of art and artifacts in the world. All Smithsonian museums are free and open to the public.

The Smithsonian:

Other Museums in DC:

DC Art Museums:

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