Many interns serve in various congressional offices, assisting individual Members, committees, and other offices or support services. Interns serve the House or Senate in a temporary capacity, primarily for an educational benefit, although some interns may receive pay for their service. This page addresses frequently asked questions (FAQs) about congressional interns and internships.
What is an intern? How is an intern different from a fellow or a page?
A number of opportunities exist for individuals who are not regular congressional employees to provide assistance to congressional offices. The titles used to describe these positions are sometimes used interchangeably, but there can also be some key differences.
- An intern is an individual who provides assistance, paid or unpaid, to a congressional office on a temporary basis. The internship experience is typically considered to provide an educational benefit for that individual. An intern’s role does not substitute for or replace the duties of regular employees. If an intern is paid, then some of the rules applicable to congressional employees may apply.
- A fellow is an individual who also performs services in a congressional office on a temporary basis, but typically through participation in an established, graduate level or mid-career education program. Fellows often receive compensation from a sponsoring employer, professional association, or other organization while working in Congress during the course of the fellowships. Congressional offices may try to recruit fellows and work with existing programs, but a fellowship is usually not a position a congressional office creates on its own.
- A page is a high-school junior, at least 16 years old, who participates in a more structured program for a semester or summer. Pages continue to serve in the Senate, but the House program was discontinued in 2010. Although they are appointed by individual Senators, the pages provide assistance as a group in the Senate chamber, and receive housing, education, and a stipend from the Senate.
What is the selection process for interns?
House and Senate offices are able to set many of their own requirements for intern selection, just as they are with general personnel decisions. Some offices, for example, may require that interns are currently enrolled students, have reached a certain level of education, or that interns live in a Member’s district or state. Many congressional offices post internship opportunities and application procedures on their websites. House offices can use the House Vacancy Announcement and Placement Service to post an internship announcement and may also request resumes from its resume bank. Similarly, the Senate Placement Office can publish opportunities for internships, collect applications, or provide resumes from its resume bank if a Senate office chooses to use the service.
Is there a minimum or maximum age for interns?
Often, interns in congressional offices are college-age individuals or recent college graduates between 18 and 24 years old. Historically, individuals under 18 generally serve Congress as pages. However, there is no minimum or maximum age limit.
How long does an internship last?
Internship lengths often reflect time periods designated by the academic calendar, occurring, for example, over the course of the fall or spring semester, or during the summer. Some congressional offices advertise three-week internships, whereas others expect interns to serve for multiple months. Internship lengths within the same office can vary too, depending on the intern’s availability and the office’s resource constraints.
Can interns receive congressional pay?
Interns may receive pay from the congressional office in which they work, if the office chooses to provide it. Paid interns working in Washington, DC, may also be eligible for transit subsidies.
Can an intern receive school credit?
The House and Senate expect that a congressional internship provides an educational experience but, institutionally, make no requirements that an intern receive school credit or be a currently enrolled student. Each educational institution sets its own requirements for granting academic credit.
Are there differences between district/state and DC internships?
The substance of the work performed in an internship may vary between district/state offices and Washington, DC, offices if the roles assumed by those different Member offices vary. For example, an intern’s tasks may involve more constituent service activities in a district or state office than they would in a Washington, DC, office where the emphasis may be more on legislative activities. The same House and Senate rules and policies generally apply to district or state office interns and to Washington, DC, office interns. Due to the high concentration of congressional interns on Capitol Hill, some training opportunities and congressional programs may be available to Washington, DC, interns, but not to interns serving in district or state offices further away.
Where can I learn about internship opportunities?
Below are links to the internship pages for each of Maryland’s Senators and Representatives. You can also find internship opportunities on the House and Senate employment websites and Tom Manatos Jobs.
- Senator Ben Cardin (D)
- Senator Chris Van Hollen (D)
- Rep. Andy Harris (R-District 1)
- Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2)
- Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3)
- Rep. Anthony Brown (D-4)
- Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5)
- Rep. David Trone (D-6)
- Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-7)
- Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8)
This information is adapted from Internships in Congressional Offices: Frequently Asked Questions, published by the Congressional Research Service.