INTERNING ON CAPITOL HILL JUST GOT A LITTLE EASIER THANKS TO 'COLLEGE TO CONGRESS'
Authors: Steny Hoyer and Fred Upton
Summer here in our nation’s capital comes with a few degrees of certainty. It’s going to be hot and humid. Republicans and Democrats aren’t going to agree on everything. And students from across the country will be coming to the city to take part in internships that will enrich their lives and future careers.
Interning on Capitol Hill is an experience unlike any other. It can be a career-forming experience that can help participants land a job in politics, and it can teach skills that can be applied across a wide range of professions. Both of us are fortunate to have dedicated full-time staffers in our offices who began their careers as interns. (One of us – Rep. Hoyer – even interned on Capitol Hill during college.)
But for many, interning on Capitol Hill is unattainable due to high costs of living here in Washington. This is unacceptable, and it’s why we’re proud to champion, alongside twenty-five of our colleagues from both sides of the aisle, the “College to Congress” program.
“College to Congress” is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that provides high-achieving students with a demonstrated commitment to public service the opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill. It provides need-based scholarships to Pell-Grant students so they have the access and means to participate in Congress’s traditionally unpaid internships. Programs like “College to Congress” are critical to strengthening diversity in Congressional offices.
We believe that socio-economic diversity among Capitol Hill interns and staffers is vitally important to ensuring that representatives and their aides hear all perspectives and are connected with the diverse communities that make up our districts. By becoming more diverse and inclusive to different viewpoints, Congress will be better equipped to meet the challenges facing our country. Eventually, many of the interns who come to Capitol Hill over the course of the year will become policymakers here in Washington or back home in their own states and communities.
We want to ensure that a diversity of backgrounds and experiences among interns today leads to a more representative Congress in the future.
At the end of the day, the value of an internship can’t be measured on a report card. It’s about creating life-long relationships, acquiring transferable skills in leadership and communication, and providing a springboard for a career in public service. This opportunity should be available to everyone, not just a few. “College to Congress” provides this enriching experience to students who otherwise could not afford it. That’s a good thing. And it’s something Republicans and Democrats can always agree on.
You can learn more about “College to Congress” at www.CollegetoCongress.org.
Hoyer is House minority whip and represents Maryland's 5th District. Upton represents Michigan's 6th District.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.