We love receiving emails that ask very specific questions. While it’s impossible to answer every email we receive with a blog post, we do like addressing the questions that we believe apply to the general public. We recently received this email:
“Hi, I am a junior in high school and am looking for a productive way to spend my summer, to also build my resume for college. For the last couple of summers I have interned for campaigns, I currently intern for an assemblyman in New Jersey, I have done a summer program at Georgetown, and I am looking to land something a little more impressive and competitive this summer due to the fact I feel I am qualified because of my background and academic excellence. Let me know. Thanks!”
This is a great question, and if you have a similar inquiry please send them our way.
We’re going to get right into it: the root of the problem here is that the student doesn’t know exactly what it is they like about politics. Here’s how we would work with a client to place them at an internship that shines on their resume.
The first step is to get down to the bottom of what aspect of politics you’re into. These days, an interest in any broad subject is not enough if you want to attend a competitive college. Liking “business” or “politics” won’t cut it, and the way to demonstrate an interest in a particular part of any field is to focus on those with internships, AP classes, research, and jobs.
So, we would start by making a list with our client that includes every single thing they like about politics. We would ask a lot of questions about what they liked and hated from every experience they’ve had within politics. Is it the introverted act of crafting legislation? Do they love canvassing and signing people up to vote? Is it the more academic approach, as in learning about history? This list is broad and it is meant to be.
Then, find a common thread between the interning you’ve done and the experiences you’ve had. In this case, the student in the email has already worked on campaigns and currently interns for an assemblyman. Once she has properly asked herself the questions and done the work, she should be able to hone in on 1-2 very specific areas that she want to focus on.
Next up is the summer job/internship research. For this client, we would have three suggestions (and then help them with that search)
1. Paid position working for a campaign.
It’s always good to show colleges that you’re not just willing to work, but were able to find a paid position. Getting paid certainly isn’t the only way to show that you’re valued, but it doesn’t hurt. This position would be best for a student that has past internship experience and is ready to level up and take on more responsibility. IMPORTANT: don’t take a paid position just because it’s paid. Money is great, but if you’re going to be going on coffee runs and making copies you won’t be left with much to put on your resume. We would only recommend a paid position if you’re getting an equal amount of experience as you would with an unpaid internship.
2. Research with a professor.
Don’t forget that political science is still a science. For students that are interested in the more academic side of politics, and don’t see themselves standing on a street signing people up to vote, you might want to consider doing research. It’s not always easy finding research opportunities in high school (read: it is actually very difficult), and you might have to pitch the position yourself. Reach out to schools and professors and offer your services. But be specific.
3. Another internship, but pay attention here.
Hopping from internship to internship doesn’t show growth if the experiences aren’t related. Three summers of working on different campaigns doing the same exact thing doesn’t add much value to your resume or give you personal data points to work off of. You should build upon the skills you already have, and look for other opportunities. This might mean going from working on a campaign to interning at a larger corporation or non-profit.
Above all, don’t think you’re above cold emailing, asking for favors, and stalking LinkedIn. While those aren’t always the most effective strategies, it’s a good place to start. We also recommend starting your summer internship search as early as possible. Our last piece of advice to our readers is to always be open to the possibility of creating your own internship or opportunity. It’s what we do. And don’t be afraid of rejection.
We go more in-depth with our clients, but this is a general overview of our process. If you want to work with someone one on one, contact us here.