Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Interns and the Revolving Doors of DC Think Tanks

Roll Call's "Hill Navigator" has a new piece that addresses whether think tanks are good places for young people to start a career in Washington, DC.  The piece essentially says yes, but suggests that it is what you make of the internship/job at the think tank that really counts.

Here is the advice given:
  • Do good work. Be the person who takes on any assignment, doesn’t monopolize credit and completes tasks both large and small with care and precision. It is an added bonus if you can demonstrate an enthusiasm for the principles behind the organization. Want some more details on how to ace your internship? Read Roll Call’s free eBook: “Best Intern Ever.”
  • Follow the leader. Looking to make a particular move? Find someone who has come before you who has done so and speak with him or her. See the options previously available and how you might replicate that path. Follow up with a thank you note, preferably handwritten. 
  • Meet everyone, even the interns. It is easy to befriend interns when you are one. Keep in mind that this summer’s interns are next year’s staff assistants. By the time you’re graduating school they might be in a position to recommend you for paying work. Keep in touch. This goes beyond being Facebook friends. Find ways to connect while you are back at school. 
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. You’ve landed at a think tank that has strong connections and knows how to get its people on Capitol Hill. Many Capitol Hill offices promote from within, and staffers of all stripes tend to look fondly on the first employer that gave them a shot, especially one that helped them land their current position. Hopefully a similar trajectory will be in your future as well.

And if you are searching for a think tank job, you may be happy to hear that think tank salaries are rising.