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Interning in the US

By Ross Cowling (blog)

Over the past few weeks, myself and my friend, Shane Greer
, have both written articles for ConservativeHome where we have talked about some of the things we have learned during the time we spent in the US recently. Neither of us, however, has really spoken about the more personal side of carrying out an internship in America. On his recent visit to Washington DC, the CF National Chairman, Mark Clarke, spent a lot of time meeting with conservative groups successfully arranging for British conservatives to carry out internships, rather like the one Shane and I have just completed. Mark has asked me to write an article based on my experiences in which I focus more on life in DC as a foreign intern.

One of the first things I noticed when I first got to Washington was how much more money there is in US politics. It is possible to argue that this is both good and bad, but it certainly makes life easier for interns. Each week we would attend various events around Washington ranging from drinks receptions at The Heritage Foundation, to book launches at fancy hotels. At each of these various gatherings there would be an impressive array of free food, and more often than not, a free bar!

I would strongly encourage anyone who goes to do an internship in DC to go to as many different things as possible. You will meet so many interesting and influential people, and will not regret going to any of them. At the Leadership Institute, where I interned, we were lucky to have an active intern coordinator who arranged many events for us to attend, but we also attended many other events independently.

Apart from it being the most well respected and well-known training organisation for conservative activists, an LI internship has many other advantages over others in DC. First and foremost is that you get free accommodation in a large, very nice house in the suburbs of Arlington, Virginia, just 15 minutes walk from the office. Most other internships in the city, be it with a member of Congress or another think-tank, do not offer this. As well as this, interns also have their basic food needs provided for. Although if you want to eat out you will have to pay for this yourself. But don’t worry, food is so cheap in the US you will hardly notice that you are actually paying for it.

Another thing that will strike British interns in Washington is just how friendly everybody is. Many of the people who you get to meet at events will be kind enough to offer to take you out to dinner, despite you “only” being an intern, so you might find yourself having a bite to eat with a journalist from the Washington Times, or a former senior member of the Executive Office of the President.

Those of you who are interested in an internship in Washington DC should get in touch with Mark Clarke, or if you would like to hear more about my personal experiences feel free to contact me. I would encourage anyone who can to take advantage of such an opportunity, as it will be one that will live with you forever!


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