Selection Process

All complete and eligible applications are reviewed by an independent selection committee of Native American educators, professionals, and tribal leaders. Interns are selected on the basis of:

  • Interest in and commitment to learning about the federal government;
  • Demonstrated commitment to tribal communities and/or tribal public policy, through contributions to or participation in one or more of the following: campus activities, community or public service, tribal government and cultural activities, research;
  • Superior writing and research ability;
  • Desire to use the knowledge gained to support their tribal community and/or Indian Country;
  • Demonstrated leadership, character and integrity.

Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to request feedback on their applications from senior program manager Jane Curlin.

When evaluating applications, readers look for:

Superior writing and research ability. This matters throughout the application, but is especially critical in the Udall essay. Applicants who do not follow the instructions, do not use and cite outside sources, and whose writing is awkward and full of errors, will not be ranked as highly. Every year we ask our interns what skills were most useful to them in their office placement, and all of them tell us that it's their ability to write clearly and concisely, and to research issues and condense the information into a one page memo.

Demonstrated commitment. Readers look to see that you have assumed leadership roles and participated in campus and community activities such as Native American clubs, pow-wows or ceremonies, or volunteered with a non-profit organization that benefits Native Americans, such as a Boys & Girls club or law clinic. Also important to readers is your desire to give back to your tribal community or to Native peoples in general.

A career path that makes sense in terms of your educational plans and activities. This goes back to the importance of the career goals statement and connecting the dots throughout the application. A good career goals statement will identify issues that you want to address in your career, articulate a path that will benefit Native people, and make the case for why the internship is the logical next step in your educational and professional development.

Initiative and self-motivation. Readers look for applicants who have shown initiative in identifying problems and finding solutions. They look for applicants who have sought out opportunities, made the most of their circumstances, and who are self-motivated and self-directed. It's also important that you can demonstrate (either through the application itself, or through the references) that you will be able to adapt to the fast-paced work environment of a congressional or agency office.

Photo of Bijiibaa, 2005 Intern

My experience in Washington, D.C. was life-changing; after my internship in Senator McCain's office, I now want to be involved in health and tribal policy to improve the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

- Bijiibaa Garrison, Navajo Nation, 2005 Intern