I was in the same boat fresh out of college. The options were vast, graduate school, part-time work, traveling, and more. At college, I postponed applying as so many do. Given the opportunity again, I'd do it differently.
Many students go to college far away from their families; summer break, therefore, is a chance to spend some time with loved ones. However, summer is also the perfect time to get professional experience in D.C.
If you are in your senior year and really would like to get your foot in the door, you can also apply for internships during the spring or the fall. You'll find about the same number of roles available, but organizations recieve a significantly smaller number of applications, and therefore spring and fall internships are less competitive.
And you should know. It’s competitive!
Organizations like CATO, The Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and the Leadership Institute receive vastly more applications than we have positions available.
But if you take the process seriously, and do your research, there’s no reason why you should fail.
Here are five benefits of interning while you are still in college:
1. Personal Development: Internships are about more than performing the responsibilities assigned. The best internships invest in people, teaching you professional skills, challenging you, and providing experiences that inspire you to want to succeed in your career.
Even by applying you'll learn how to build your resume and prepare for an interview. On the job you'll learn how to write professional emails and speak in public. Those skills are essential and will help you much more in the long term than just listing an organization on your resume.
2. Networking: D.C. is a city fueled by connections. If you are out of sight, you are out of mind. That is why interning while you are at college builds those solid relationships which will be so important when you graduate or apply for your next internship.
3. Freedom of expression: Take a break from liberals. If you are in college, chances are you are in the minority as a conservative. Many colleges act to suffocate open political discourse, and as a conservative, you are likely on the receiving end of leftist abuse. Come to intern in the conservative movement where your principles are valued, and you can learn to tackle leftist abuses on your campus.
4. Discover your talents: Interning in D.C. is about gaining practical experience. It helps you confirm what you want to do, and what you do not. Many interns come to DC, and their internship confirms that they do indeed want to work on the Hill, for a think tank, or a non-profit. Others learn that it’s not for them. Both lessons are equally valuable.
5. Head start: The difference between the graduates who get a well-paying job out of college and those do not is internships. If you are forward thinking and you get that experience early, you will hit the ground running after graduation. If you do not, you will find yourself left behind. So which will it be?