Washington, D.C. is not only the capital of the United States, but it’s also the leading city for government and policy studies, international non-profit organizations, and thousands of successful businesses in all types of fields. Being a Washington, D.C. intern will allow you to gain professional work experience, perfect your networking skills, and dive deeper into U.S. history. Whether you have your sights set on becoming a legislative aide or want to improve your leadership savvy, an internship in Washington, D.C. is the first step on your way to a successful career.
Types of Washington D.C. Internships
Internships in Washington, D.C. come in many shapes and sizes, and all students can benefit from the learning opportunities available. No matter what type of opportunity you choose, be sure to compare programs to ensure you’re getting the most from your experience.
Short term internships and summer internships vs. long-term internships. Most interns in D.C. are students, so the first thing you’ll need to decide is when to do your internship. Are you interested in a short-term internship over summer break or are you looking for a semester-long program that will offer academic credit and classes on the side? When considering how long you want to intern, be sure to consider how the internship fits in with your studies and your career objectives. A four-week internship can be just as valuable as a 12-week stint as long as you have clearly defined goals.
Popular fields of work. You can find an internship in Washington, D.C. in almost any field, but those interested in specific areas might have better luck finding the perfect fit. Students of law, political science, and public administration clearly have a leg up in this government-heavy region, but there are options as well. Those studying business or finance will have no problem finding placements in one of the many international companies based here, while hospitality students can take their pick in one the city’s hotels, restaurants, and tourist hotspots.
Paid vs. unpaid internships in Washington D.C. While some Washington D.C. internships include a salary, others come without pay. Before you turn down that unpaid internship though, take a look at what else the program includes. Many internship programs also offer things like academic credit, leadership and management classes, or group outings, which will assist you in your professional life and career field.
Life in Washington D.C.
In Washington, the city’s residents work hard and play hard, too. This isn’t a place for those who like to sit around, and you’ll quickly be swept up in the whirlwind of activity permeating the region when you’re interning in Washington D.C. Take advantage of D.C.’s social scene to meet other interns and young professionals. Not only will you get inside tips on job advancement, but you’ll also discover some really great restaurants and bars, too. When networking gets a bit tiring, you can always head over to one of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums (for free!).
Lodging is likely to be one of the most difficult parts of arranging an internship in Washington D.C., so if your program provides assistance with housing, take them up on the offer! As with any large international city, rents are high and the market is filled with young people looking for a deal. Your best bet is to find a room in a shared apartment or look outside of the city center. Luckily, the area has several good options for public transportation, making getting to work easy no matter where you’re located.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Washington D.C. is a global city and interns come from all over the United States and abroad. Most foreign nationals who wish to come to the U.S. will need to obtain a special J-1 visa in order to participate legally in their internship. The majority of internship programs will be able to assist you in obtaining the paperwork required for the visa application.
In order to be eligible for an internship visa, you must be a student or recent graduate in your home country and be able to pass an English language proficiency test. Be aware that there are also limitations to this type of visa, such as the length of time you’re allowed to stay in the U.S. and the type of work you’re able to pursue. While all the paperwork and Embassy visits can feel daunting, it’ll totally be worth it when you arrive in Washington and catch your first glimpse of the National Mall, Ford’s Theatre, and the Lincoln Monument.
Interning in Washington, D.C. isn’t for the faint of heart, and you’ll be challenged in many ways during your time there. Luckily, the city is a great place for personal as well as professional growth, so be sure to take some time to explore its historic landmarks, world-class museums, and innovative restaurants.
For more information on interning in the United States, be sure to check out this comprehensive guide and start polishing your resume!