The Office of Government and Community Affairs (GCA) provides assistance to Columbia undergraduates interested in spending the summer interning in either the local or Washington, D.C. office of a U.S. Member of Congress. In addition to assisting students as they apply for internships, our office also hosts summer events for Columbia students in D.C. Those who wish to receive advice and guidance from GCA should register their intention to apply to a congressional office by emailing Nathan Robb, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations, with their contact information, home state, and the offices to which they intend to apply.
Limited GCA stipend funds may be available to students eligible for financial assistance. In order to be eligible, applicants must be students of Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, or the School of General Studies. Barnard College offers assistance to students pursuing unpaid internships through the Beyond Barnard Internship Program. More information, including deadlines and requirements, can be found via their website.
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How is the COVID 19 pandemic impacting congressional internships?
It’s important to consider if and how the pandemic may impact your summer plans if you’re hoping to pursue an internship in Congress this summer. So far, each member of Congress office has been determining its own internship policies in response to the pandemic. This means that it is important to determine how internships will be handled in each individual office where you plan to apply. In the summer of 2020, the response varied considerably between offices, with some canceling internships, others moving to a fully-remote experience, and still others making very minor changes to their normal course of business. We expect a similar situation next summer, depending on the pandemic’s status at that time.
Choosing an Office
Summer internships in Washington, D.C. afford students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the inner workings of the federal government. While interns are most often not directly involved in policy-making, they gain valuable exposure to the procedure, politics, agenda setting and policy of the nation’s capital. Unlike Washington, D.C. offices, district offices do not usually concentrate on policy-making, but provide students with valuable experience in constituent services and casework.
The responsibilities of an intern may vary from office to office. In general, an intern will:
Washington D.C. Internship
Perform general office duties
Have an opportunity for involvement in one or more of the following:
- Attend committee hearings and prepare reports
- Research policy and legislation
- Draft correspondence, articles, and speeches
- Represent the office at meetings and briefings
- Lead tours of the Capitol for visiting constituents
- Answer constituent mail
District Office Internship
Perform general office duties
Have an opportunity for involvement in one or more or the following:
- Perform casework for constituents
- Record constituent sentiment on policy issues
- Answer constituent mail
Columbia does not grant students academic credit for completing congressional Internships.
For more information on the Columbia University Congressional Internship Program, please contact Nathan Robb, Assistant Vice President of Government Relations at (212) 854-4611 ([email protected]).
Washington, D.C. Housing Resources
While Columbia University does not provide summer housing for students in Washington, D.C., a number of local colleges and universities operate summer housing programs specifically tailored to student interns, regardless of their home institution. Here is a brief list of available university summer housing programs along with contact information:
Internship Stipend Program
GCA is happy to announce the 2021 Congressional Internship Stipend Program for Columbia College, SEAS and GS students. It is important to note that the application must be handed in complete. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please review the application and direct any questions you may have to Nathan W. Robb at 917-658-9701 or [email protected].
Please note the following items:
- Stipend funds are intended for students who will be interning in Washington D.C. (as opposed to district offices).
- The stipend is need-based. Precedence will be given to students who have received Pell Grants during the academic year.
You will still be considered for a summer stipend, even if you have not received final acceptance from a Congressional office; however, stipends will only be distributed once GCA has received confirmation that you have been offered and have accepted an internship position.
Download 2021 Stipend Application. The 2021 Congressional Internship Stipend application is due on Friday, March 12. Please email as an attachment to Nathan Robb with “Congressional Internship Stipend Application” written in the subject line.
For more information about congressional internships, check out the Frequently Asked Questions.
Other Internship Opportunities
United States Department of Transportation Summer Internship for Diverse Groups
The Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG) provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and skills that will complement your academic pursuits. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate tomorrow's leaders, strengthen their understanding of the transportation industry and prepare them for future public service opportunities.
The STIPDG is a paid internship program open to all qualified candidates without regard to their race, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic prohibited by state or local law.
For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of Transportation website.
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internships
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation offers internships throughout the year that enable students to work in congressional offices or in federal agencies. There are three programs--the Congressional Internship Program, the Emerging Leaders Internship Program, and the Communications Internship program.
Program participants receive housing and stipends.
Applications for Summer 2019 are open until March 29, and the program runs from May 27 through July 26. For more information and to apply, please visit the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation website.
Internships through the Columbia University Center for Career Education
CCE has several summer internship programs for Columbia students. The Center for Career Education has the over 100 current international and domestic positions available in a wide variety of industries.