Behind the Scenes on Legislative Internships
When thinking about a career in science policy, one avenue that can start you off on the right path is through a legislative internship opportunity. Legislative interns are a policy maker’s part-time staff which help their legislator interact with the public, coordinate schedules, and perform research. The research that legislative interns do can span a variety of subjects, from native wildlife conservation to number-crunching on how a budget proposal may affect their constituency.
To find out more about the types of opportunities available for residents of Champaign-Urbana, I interviewed a staffer at the Illinois state level about the process for finding legislative interns, and what qualities are most important for competitive candidates. She told me that qualified candidates have a demonstrated ability in written & verbal communication, an ability to work directly with the public, experience volunteering, and is self-motivated. Additionally, candidates should have a topic of interest they would like to perform research on while working with the office.
She informed me that staff interns for her policymaker are usually found through word-of-mouth, but Representative Carol Ammons has an easily accessible website (https://www.staterepcarolammons.com/about) through which she offers a variety of positions that can be applied for online. Because the application structure can vary so wildly between different state-level policymakers, it is always worth it to check the website of any policymaker you wish to work with for more information. Policymakers generally start looking for summer interns in the spring, so make sure to schedule your time so you can put in good applications in March. If you have a permanent address in the district of the policymaker you’re interested in working with, then this gives a good jumping-off point for a more formal relationship in the future.
If you have any personal stories about working with a politician, or have any other science policy related topic you’d like to talk about, our blog is always accepting submissions. If you are just starting off in getting involved with Science Policy Group, this is a great way to start! I hope that this has been helpful, and best of luck with your legislative internship prospects!