Lofgren, a staff assistant for a Louisiana Republican representative, found an internship listing online and was able to land the spot, and later a full-time job.
“I was right out of college, and I sent off my résumé to a bunch of members’ offices,” she said. “I kind of just randomly landed in Vic Fazio’s office.”
Ryan Gofus, a third-year student at American University’s Washington College of Law, got an internship offer from a congressman’s office that he hadn’t even applied to.
“Well, actually I submitted my résumé to work for Sen. [John] Hoeven from North Dakota, and I wasn’t selected for that internship,” he said. “The way I understand it, my résumé was passed around, and then I got a call from Congressman [Rick] Berg’s office maybe a month or so later, and I went in for an interview. That’s how it started.”
The Placement Office
Not every intern’s story is a matter of the blind hiring the blind. Some got professional help.
Joe Kasper, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., submitted his application to an internship program through the political science department while attending the University of Connecticut. He secured an internship with former GOP Rep. Rob Simmons.
“At that time in the delegation there was only Rob Simmons and Chris Shays from Connecticut,” Kasper said. “Rob Simmons, being a Vietnam vet, being a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I felt like that was a perfect fit for me.”
Sometimes you can even take advantage of another school’s resources.
Marisa Markwardt, who has since moved away from Capitol Hill back to South Carolina to work in social media management for the website Audiogon.com, had a similar experience. She got an internship with Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., though the University of South Carolina Washington Semester Program, even though she attended Clemson University.
“Any honor student from any college in South Carolina could apply for it,” Markwardt said. “I was able to, kind of through the program, find out who was the intern director in Rep. Clyburn’s office, and got in touch with him. It definitely was a big help just being a part of that program and having those connections already set up because they had people from the program intern in Rep. Clyburn’s office before.”
The Road Less Traveled
No matter how far you look down to see where it bends in the undergrowth, sometimes you just can’t tell. Sometimes it’s through a windshield.
Eric Edwards, a partner at Crowell & Moring, got his start in Washington by going beyond his job description while he interned for the late Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., during his last year at John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
“He hired me in the Chicago office to do casework. I ended up being his driver part time while I was also doing casework during the day because his full-time driver became ill,” Edwards said. “He asked me, after I passed the bar, what I would I like do, and I said I would like to come out to D.C. and do policy work. I started as a legislative correspondent in the Senate.”
And sometimes it’s just a matter of leaping to the other side of the fence.