What Makes a Great Intern Program?

For every young politico, interning in Washington, D.C. is a dream come true. It is the opportunity to live and work in the heart of political activity.

Luckily, there are many internship programs from which to choose. In particular, the summer internship programs offer the most choice not just professionally, but also socially, as D.C. comes to life with social and cultural events.

For recruiters, finding interns is not difficult; but to attract the very best talent, organizations must compete. While payment is important in exchange for hard work, many interns understand it is not always possible to pay a living wage. It’s not often money that motives the best talent to apply, it’s the following.


This is probably the most beneficial part of an internship. If interns are not going to happy hours, conferences, and policy luncheons at least once a week, they have wasted their time. The connections interns make are critical for their future success. Ensure that you provide interns with the time and the knowledge to make good contacts.


Opportunity for Growth

At the Leadership Institute, one or two interns from each class are commonly hired as full-time staff. This incentivizes interns to perform their best and shows their hard work does pay off. This is great for recent graduates or upcoming seniors still unsure of their next step after college.


For many interns, affordable housing is the difference between coming out to D.C. or not. Organizations like Leadership Institute offer free housing, and George Washington University opens its dorms. As an organization, work with your interns to ensure they know what is available.


Giving critical feedback

This is crucial to the success of your interns. Aspiring professionals should to be taught how to see their projects through to completion, and then taught how to improve. Organizations do their interns no favors by treating them with kid gloves. Make sure your intern knows their weaknesses, so they walk away from your organization stronger.

A positive work environment

Nobody wants to work in a place where their work or is not valued. Remember, your intern today is your colleague or coalition partner tomorrow. When they’re working for your organization you enjoy a close relationship; their time interning with you will affect how they work with you in future.