How to Score a Touchdown with Your Political Internship Application

By Truman Wosnak| November 28, 2017

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It’s that time of year when interns are applying for summer internships.

Many dream of a career in politics and government and come to Washington to work here. Opportunities to intern in Congress, the Senate, on political campaigns and with lobbyist groups draw interns from around the world. Positions are highly competitive, and you need to have every advantage possible.

Here’s How to Score a Touchdown with Your Political Internship Application

Applying for a federal political internship is a little different than other industries.

Forget what you think you know about standard resume writing. This is a whole different ball game.

In fact, unlike the one-page resumes you’re taught to write in school, a government tailored resume usually runs around 2-to-5 pages in length, depending on your level of experience.

Sure, you’ll have the typical summarization of your work history, but a political internship application requires more than the condensed version.

How to tackle an all-star resume

Tailor your resume to a specific position

For a game-winning political resume, customization begins with learning what the agency is looking for. So, have the internship ad and job description handy when you begin. Focus on specific duties, qualifications and requirements and include only experiences that relate to them. You can be creative here. Just because a job or volunteer work wasn’t in politics, doesn’t mean what you learned there does not apply. Just save that fast food job you had in High School.

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Use their own words

Each section of a job posting has specific talking points, words and phrases they use. Intersperse those words throughout the content of your resume and cover letter.

Using language from the job description in your resume and cover letter mirrors theirs and will signal you are paying attention.

Correlate your own work history with each point

The idea here is to demonstrate exactly how you have developed each specific skill that is required by the agency. Emphasize and demonstrate how your experiences, talents and/or education overlaps with the duties and qualifications listed in each internship application. This is your big shot at telling them that you’re the major league talent they’ve been looking for.

Read more tips on creating the best resume ever

Sell your achievements

Don’t be shy about selling yourself and your achievements. This isn’t the time for modesty. Share your:

  • knowledge
  • skills
  • accomplishments
  • awards
  • educational or subject degrees

…as they relate to the internship position.

Give the agency representative a reason to move you to the top of their list. You want that all important interview.

Go beyond work and education

For political internships in particular, hiring managers want to hear about your involvement in:

  • social activities
  • volunteer experiences
  • religious organizations
  • unique projects you participated in
  • unique life experiences
  • awards
  • certificates
  • mastered subjects

Include skills and achievements that go beyond your work experiences and classroom education, including all activities that might qualify you for this specific position. For instance, on a semester overseas you may have learned a second language that would be a plus.

Be concise

In your application, be as detailed as possible, but don’t bore them to death with an information dump. The person you’ll be speaking with is likely to have limited availability so don’t waste their time. Be ready to provide context and more details if asked, but spare them the excess for now.

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Present like a pro

There are no rain checks here. Regardless of the extent of your previous work experience, achievements and skills, make a better first impression by presenting your resume and cover letter in a professional manner.

This means using proper grammar and checking for simple things like spelling mistakes.

Do not rely on spell checker, it often misses context.

Many employers toss any applications with typos and grammatical errors. Sending out a first draft application is a major mistake. Don’t let your application get filed in the wastebasket. If you want to be taken seriously, take the process seriously.

Applying for and landing a political internship means that you’re in for some tough competition, especially in Washington, D.C. Be ready to play a little hardball and you can score a great job!

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