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Congressional Internship Program: Internship and Placement Information

“No school produces brighter, more motivated, and harder-working students who are better prepared for life after college than the University of Tennessee. Senator Alexander couldn’t be more pleased for this office to participate in the UT Congressional Internship Program—he and his staff benefit from the skills these interns bring to their service to the people of Tennessee. I’m a proud UT alum and a former congressional intern, and I’m excited to be working with this program to offer internship opportunities that open doors and help prepare UT students for life after college.

– Misty Marshall, Operations Director for Senator Lamar Alexander & Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

The UT nomination committee does not pick students based on their political preference. We take students who we feel will thrive in DC and whose career goals will be positively impacted. However, our program is a nomination with a scholarship (upon final placement) and the legislative offices have the final decision regarding which nominees they will ultimately accept. In addition to experiential and educational qualifications, many times the decision is influenced by the district in which you reside, if you are registered with a political party, and if there is a congruency of political philosophy. Now is the time to determine where you stand politically; you will be working to support the views of the legislature and Constituents, and therefore, a good fit is important to your experience.

In preparation, you are encouraged to review the resources below to learn about the senators and representatives. At the least, you will want to know in which district you reside – some offices give preference to applicants from their own districts. You are also encouraged to review their political affiliations and viewpoints and consider how they compare to your own. Additionally, you may want to take a look at the committees on which they serve, especially if they hold a position such as “chair or vice chair” as you may assume some of your work could be related to the responsibilities on these committees. In some cases, interns are selected specifically for committee work (e.g., Senate HELP Committee).

Students may also want to investigate additional DC government internship possibilities prior to and during application. If an independently arranged internship meets specific guidelines, the selection committee will grant the scholarship to a student nominated for the Congressional Internship program.

Members of Congress/Legislative Branch

United States Government

The Internship Experience and Learning Opportunities

Congressional Interns work full-time (at least 30 hours per week/3-5 days per week). The Tennessee Congressional Delegation, with nine representatives and two senators, provides the core of placements. However, other recent placements have included the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The internship experience can vary depending on placement. While the experience can often include general office work, it can also include a range of higher level daily tasks (including but not limited to):

  • Fielding constituent inquiries through e/mail and phone calls
  • Giving tours of the Capitol
  • Researching policy issues
  • Compiling/distributing documents
  • Writing reports/memos
  • Tracking legislation
  • Attending hearings/briefings related to the office/organization’s interests
  • Engaging in special projects

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Objective I: Civic Engagement

Students will:

  • enhance understanding of public policy and governance procedures and their impact on our state;
  • demonstrate appreciation of the civic engagement process and how diversity and varying viewpoints impact public policy; and
  • gain knowledge of the organizational culture and processes of a political office.

Objective II: Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Students will:

  • apply prior learning (e.g. classroom or experiential) to analyze issues, make decisions and overcome problems in a professional setting;
  • acknowledge and apply the input and constructive feedback of colleagues and supervisors; and
  • assess their personal method for budgeting finances (i.e. stipend) for a defined period of time.

Objective III: Communication

Students will:

  • develop strategies for communicating effectively, verbally and nonverbally, in a professional setting (i.e., relaying messages efficiently and suitably to the situation and audience and displaying awareness of sensitive issues, exhibiting standards of diplomacy, tact and confidentiality).

Objective IV: Collaboration and Leadership

Students will:

  • employ personal leadership and teamwork style with colleagues and constituents representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints to achieve goals.

Objective V: Career Management and Professionalism

Students will:

  • appraise personal skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to career and educational goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth;
  • practice proper etiquette and attire in a professional setting; and
  • enhance professional networking skills and contacts.

*The Congressional Internship’s learning outcomes are largely based upon the National Association of Colleges and Employer’s Career Readiness Competencies for Students.