Finding the Perfect Internship out of 35,000 Possibilities

Thirty-five thousand students venture to D.C. every summer to participate in internships.  That’s not a typo, you read it correctly – 35,000!

Come early June, the streets of the District are flooded with aspiring undergraduates just waiting to sink their teeth into projects at their offices.  With a number so large, there are obviously a multitude of organizations and issues areas offering internships – where do you even begin to search?

Well, here’s a little advice – start with the issue areas you are passionate about.  Make a list of the top issue areas you would like to focus on and find offices and organizations that fit your list.

  • Does the future of U.S. energy get you excited?
  • Is the 2012 campaign cycle where your interest lies?
  • Do you enjoy learning more about policy issues such as health care or social security?

Next, think about different types of organizations – in a city as diverse as Washington, DC, you could intern at an NGO, government agency, embassy or nonprofit.  Once you have a clear understanding of your issue areas and types of organizations, the process of narrowing down 35,000 opportunities to just a handful will not be as daunting.

An example of such an organization that gives wonderful professional opportunities to undergraduates is the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.  Its mission is to discover, develop, and support intellectual entrepreneurs worldwide who advance the Atlas vision of a society of free and responsible individuals.

Known as one of the more prominent economic think tanks in Washington, DC, Atlas discovers and assists those who have the talent and willingness to create effective institutions and programs around the world through research, education and advocacy.

Last summer, Bryan Patenaude of Boston College interned at Atlas and was able to pursue ideas he was passionate about by working on book projects focusing on the Middle East and Africa.

To learn more about public policy internships based in Washington, DC, please visit to learn more about the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems.

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