An application process typically is required to become a legislative intern. This is often done through a college or university or the government branch, depending on the country and how the program is structured. A legislative intern can be either a current student or a recent graduate, again depending on how the program is designed.
An academic background in politics is often an advantage if you want to become a legislative intern, but it might not be required. Applicants to these programs often excel academically and have a strong interest in learning about a particular branch of government. Often, the program is located within the intern’s own country, but it also can be located in another country. Germany, for example, offers a legislative intern program for U.S. and Canadian students who are fluent in German.
Successful interns often have a strong interest in the legislative process, excellent communication skills, strong analytical thinking skills, an ability to conduct in-depth research, a strong work ethic and the ability to multi-task and work in a fast-paced environment. Intern duties can include tracking legislation, attending meetings, responding to questions from constituents and general office tasks. Interns often work directly with government officials.
The process to become a legislative intern is competitive, because positions are limited. Several steps usually are required in the application process. Candidates typically fill out an application and submit any supporting materials that are required. Supporting materials can include a cover letter and resume, letters of recommendation and an essay. Non-student intern applicants can apply directly to the legislative branch, but the process usually is different for students.
Student candidates often are first screened by their colleges or university. The academic institution also makes and sets all criteria for receiving academic credit. Additionally, students accepted into the program must meet all academic and conduct requirements in addition to requirements set by the legislature. For example, conservative business attire typically is required. Unless the hours are set or limited by the academic institution, hours can be long and might include evenings and weekends.
Once all application materials have been completed, candidates typically interview with office where they want to work or where they are being placed. These interviews might be arranged by the college or by the legislature's department that oversees interns. Like any application process, a formal notification is made to candidates who are selected to become a legislative intern.
An advantage to being a legislative intern is the opportunity to gain real-world experience. This is particularly helpful for those interested in pursuing a career in politics. Some legislative interns who excel are even offered permanent positions as legislative assistants.