The rules I’ve learned for successful internships

This op-ed is a senior op-ed for a Newswire staff member.


When I tell people that I grew up in the D.C. area, people ask, “How’d you end up out here?”

I was lucky to have grown up in that part of the country because it gave me a chance to see things up close. It played a role in why I chose to study political science. Now, when I tell people that I major in political science and hope to go to law school in the next few years, they usually say, “That sounds boring, but if you enjoy it, then good for you!”

I came to Xavier not having really any clue what I wanted to study. When I started taking political science electives at the end of my first year at Xavier, I knew for a fact that I loved what I was learning and ultimately wanted to return to D.C.

I worked as a pizza boy from my junior year of high school until I began my sophomore year at Xavier, at which time the political science department began accepting applications for the 2017 State Politics Internship Program at the Statehouse in Columbus. I figured that it would be a good stepping stone toward politics in D.C. It was not paid, but it was for credit, so, the next best thing.

I was hooked when I got there. I loved learning on the fly, watching debates on the house floor and sitting in on committee hearings. It was pretty much the legislator, one staffer and myself in our office, so I was always busy.

Rule one of an internship: Never be bored.

This goes for an internship in any field, whether it be business, politics, sports or any other industry. Be eager to learn, and when you complete something, always ask for more projects. It is why you are there.

After eight weeks in Columbus, my internship ended ,and I returned home to D.C. to sling pizzas for one last month and save money for a semester abroad. When I returned from that semester in December 2017, I felt like I was ready to use my skills and experience to intern in D.C. I applied to many offices and eventually one clicked. I was excited to be working for a member of Congress.

I love learning. When I showed up on Capitol Hill for my first day, I was eager to learn and fell in love with the fast-paced environment. But I brought my experiences from Columbus as well.

Rule two of an internship: Never undermine the work of full-time staff or think you are too smart for the ‘intern work.’

Guess what? You are not too smart for the intern work.

I know that this one should seem obvious, but I am serious. If your boss needs coffee, then you go to get her a coffee. If they need something reorganized, then do it with a smile. They know you probably don’t want to do that sort of stuff, but they will take notice when you do it well and with a smile.

The third and final rule: ALWAYS attend networking events and work functions.

You will get a chance to know your co-workers outside of the office, make connections and meet people who are interested in helping you get a foot in the door. I was so fortunate to develop connections in both Columbus and D.C. By networking, you will meet people who are willing to turn around and pull you up with them because someone pulled them up when they were in our shoes.


Michael Rauber is a graduating senior. During his time with the Newswire, he has served as a staff writer.