A political internship is a great way to become a more informed citizen because it will help you understand common issues people face when trying to interact with the government, will give you background on how laws are made, and will help you understand which people make which decisions and how those decisions are made.
If you’re not sure what you want to do in life but you care about politics, this is the guide for you.
If you are certain you want to do politics as a job, please switch to this slightly different guide I wrote for aspiring policy aides and aspiring politicians which you can read here.
I recommend beginning as early as possible. If you are in middle school, you will only be able to volunteer. Once you are in high school, you are eligible to apply for a formal internship. This internship will serve as logged community service hours for your college application. If you are in college, you will (probably) have to get college credit. It does not matter which semester you do the internship, although summer internship slots are more competitive, so it’s always better to do it during the school year after your classes are finished.
In my internship, I started out answering phones and writing down people’s complaints for the senator to read, and then I got to write policy memos suggesting fixes in the laws and systems to address their complaints. Your internship should be similar.
Watch this video and make sure you reach out to your state senator, not your federal senator. Use this link to find out who it is. Your state senator is the one from the upper chamber (colored yellow after you search your address). This does not apply if you live in Nebraska for reasons that would take me too long to explain. If you live in Nebraska, you should just move to a different state.
Your mayor is also an excellent choice if your state senator does not share your political beliefs because party affiliation matters a lot less at the local level. The best departments to intern in or shadow in are the planning, development, or code enforcement department.
Like in the video, you’ll have to contact your state senator (or mayor) by phone because boomers love phones. You may have to leave a voicemail. That’s fine. Boomers love voicemails. Boomers love snail mail too, so if all else fails, try a hand-delivered manila envelope to city hall, which you can find on Google Maps.