Georgetown University attracts students interested in politics and policy from across the world year after year. In addition to Georgetown’s location, which provides students unparalleled access to countless internship and community service opportunities, its reputation as one of the world’s leading academic institutions and commitment to community service establish Georgetown as the premier destination for students interested in political and policy careers.
Despite these attributes, finding and securing an entry-level job in politics or policy often proves difficult, as political and policy organizations’ recruiting and hiring practices differ from other sectors. Unlike financial services, consulting, and other sectors, political and policy organizations rarely participate in on-campus recruiting programs. Additionally, the competitive nature of Washington and overabundance of qualified candidates increase the difficulty associated with finding and securing an entry-level position. As such, students may improve their chances by conducting a proactive search and taking the following steps:
- Intern, Intern, Intern – Washington, DC is home to the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, think tanks, nonprofits, and myriad organizations in the political and policy realm. Georgetown’s location enables students to pursue internship opportunities – often for credit via internship-based courses – during the academic year. Internships provide an invaluable experience and often serve as a stepping stone to an entry-level job.
Students interested in political or policy careers should vigorously pursue such opportunities, as they enable students to learn in a professional environment, interact and network with potential mentors, and complete tasks similar to those in entry-level positions. In fact, students should take advantage of their time in Washington and pursue multiple internships while at Georgetown. Similarly, if you are particularly interested in a specific issue area, pursue internships that reflect your interest.
- Highlight Political Activity – Political activity provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate interest in politics or policy, which often aids in efforts to secure an entry-level job in Washington. Students interested in such positions should volunteer for a local, state, or national campaign, either in Washington or during breaks. The College Republicans and College Democrats also serve as a gateway to political activity and students should pursue leadership opportunities within those organizations.
- Demonstrate Strong Research and Writing Skills – Entry-level positions in politics and policy often require research and writing skills. Students interested in such positions should demonstrate strong research and writing skills via previous experience and writing samples. If your course of study at Georgetown is research and writing intensive, discuss your experience in cover letters and interviews. If you previously interned, explain how the experience honed your research and writing skills. Many entry-level jobs in politics and policy require either a writing sample or a writing test. Although previous assignments from Georgetown coursework may suffice, prepare a two to four page summary of a recent congressional hearing, legislative update, or policy brief as you will likely be tasked with preparing similar documents as an entry-level employee.
- Know Your Role – Political and policy organizations are generally hierarchal in nature. Roles within such organizations are clearly defined and entry-level employees typically provide administrative, research, and writing support for principals. That being said, entry-level employees should be flexible and willing to assume additional responsibilities. Employees who produce good product, demonstrate initiative, and anticipate principals’ needs bring value to the organization. Although promotion within the organization may occur, entry-level jobs usually span one to two years and often serve as a stepping stone in your career.
- Use Hoya Gateway – Metropolitan Washington, DC has more than 40,000 Georgetown alumni, many of whom actively engage with students via Hoya Gateway. If you’re contemplating a career in politics or policy, use Hoya Gateway to connect with alumni who work in those fields. In addition to sharing their experiences, alumni review resumes and conduct informational and mock interviews. Hoya Gateway exists as a tremendous resource for students, use it to your advantage.
College students from across the country and world hope to work in Washington. Despite intense competition amongst applicants for a limited number of positions, you have two distinct advantages: you’ve spent the last four years living and learning in Washington, and Georgetown has thousands of alumni willing to offer advice and guidance. Plan ahead, concentrate your efforts, and use resources such as Hoya Gateway to find and secure an entry-level job in politics or policy.
Robert Flock (C’09) is a Policy Analyst at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP. He is actively involved with Hoya Gateway, The Georgetown Club of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and The Fund for American Studies.