Legislative Internship Program

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Application and Writing Tips

During session, a legislator's office can receive dozens, sometimes hundreds, of letters and emails a day.  Interns handle a significant amount of this correspondence. As nonpartisan staff with a major role in representing lawmakers to the public, interns are responsible for communicating legislators' ideas and positions clearly, accurately, and professionally to their constituents and the state. Download a sample constituent letter for an example of a typical intern assignment: Sample constituent letter.pdf

Interns receive professional writing training during orientation and throughout session, but strong foundational writing skills and a high level of accuracy and attention to detail are essential for a good application. Part of the interview process is a timed writing exercise to demonstrate your ability to write a professional letter following specific instructions. These tips will help you craft a solid set of application materials and prepare for the writing exercise if you are selected for an interview. Your university's career services office is also an invaluable resource - use it!

In professional writing, the most important priorities are clarity and accessibility. Anything you write in a professional context will be read by busy people who need to quickly understand the main argument and important points of your document, whether it's a cover letter, an email response, or a policy memo. That means it should be well-organized, approachable, and error-free. We look for all three criteria in your application materials.  Well-organized letters and essays are properly formatted, answer the prompts directly, and have a logical, interesting narrative. Your language and tone should be straight-forward and conversational, easily accessible to a non-academic audience. Passive voice, run-on sentences, and overly formal or technical vocabulary make your writing seem pretentious and confusing. Finally, we do not give partial credit for great ideas with comma splices and sloppy editing. Proofread to eliminate typos and grammatical and punctuation errors that distract from your content and make us question your attention to detail.

What we're looking for:

  • Clear, concise, well-edited writing
  • Everyday, simple, professional-quality language and formatting
  • Error-free punctuation and grammar
  • A cover letter that addresses how you are prepared to fulfill the duties and expectations of a Legislative Intern
  • Your interest in learning about state government and supporting the work of legislators and staff
  • How the internship will help you in your academic and career goals

 What we're not:

  • Fancy vocabulary or technical jargon
  • Semicolons
  • Obvious lack of proofreading or following application instructions
  • Extremely personal information (we want to know who you are as a person, but you should be discrete about the personal stories you choose to share in a professional environment)
  • Your positions on hot-button issues or personal activist causes