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In the [Job] Loop: Intern Edition

For most of Capitol Hill, summer means intern season is just beginning. But what if you’re on a different timetable, and your internship is ending without a paid job yet? Hill Navigator discusses.

Q. My internship ends this Friday. However, I haven't found a job yet and I plan on staying here in D.C. What can I do to stay in the job loop on the Hill after, besides staying in touch with the contacts I've made?
A. Congrats on interning, it’s one of the best ways to land a paying job on Capitol Hill. And you are right; staying in touch with the contacts you’ve made is a great way to keep your job search active. But “active” doesn’t always cut it — you want a job soon, and not one waiting tables at Rock Bottom Brewery. So here are a few ways to hasten that along:  

Ask your contacts for more contacts. These guys already know you’re stellar, so ask if they can introduce you to staffers in other offices for informational interviews. Assuming you were a strong intern, they’re likely going to be happy to help. And even if your internship wasn’t as outstanding as you would have liked it to be, your office can still point you in a good direction.  

It’s opportunity season. Otherwise known as election season. Midterms are just around the corner and both sides should be staffing up soon. Working on a campaign isn’t always a direct route to Capitol Hill, but if you’re connected to a state with a challenger who has a decent chance to knock off an incumbent, or an incumbent who could use some help defending his or her seat, it could be worth exploring the option. And if you want to travel to far-off exotic spots, whether it be New Orleans or Scranton, Pa., a few months on the campaign trail could be a good fit.  

Offer to help.  Maybe your old office has a tough re-election, or maybe they’re actively supporting a challenger from a neighboring district. Nothing says “team player” like volunteering to canvas, stuff envelopes or shuttle volunteers. And if your old office has been lukewarm about recommending you on the internship alone, they’re likely to have much more glowing things to say if you’ve proved you can go the extra mile.  

Put together a game plan and consider a second internship. Depending on how well your contacts are faring and how your job search is going, you may want to consider  looking for a second internship. So many factors go into this — your résumé and experience, the hiring process, your state connections and sheer dumb luck — so Hill Navigator can’t say one way or another if you need to rush ahead on applying for more intern experience. But sit down with someone who does know you well and get their feedback.  

Good luck!  

Have a question for Hill Navigator? Email hillnavigator@rollcall.com. All submissions will be treated anonymously.