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Intern at OpenCongress

April 30, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

We’re looking to hire interns for this summer in our Washington, DC and New York City offices. We have paid and unpaid positions available, full-time and part-time. We’re looking for people with a wide range of skills, from web development and graphic design to researching legislation and communications. If you have a basic interest in politics and government, there is probably a position that could work for you.

New York

OpenCongress has three intern positions available this summer in our shared workspace in New York City. Interns will work alongside OpenCongress Program Manager David Moore on a variety of tasks: daily site maintenance, dedicated research projects, writing original analysis of Congressional news, conducting outreach on social networking services, and more.

OpenCongress is a small, agile, non-profit project. We regret that we can’t provide salaries or stipends for interns in the New York City office. That said, becoming a volunteer intern with OpenCongress offers some unique opportunities. First, as befits our mission of increasing transparency, our web development process is itself highly transparent & collaborative, allowing interns to participate fully in the building of the site. Second, our office offers easy access to all the amazing cultural experiences of NYC in the summertime, as well as connections to a growing community of government transparency projects in New York. Third, interning with OpenCongress means you’ll be working with a small but growing project at the leading edge of building public knowledge about Congress and increasing civic engagement.

Internship schedules are flexible, but generally, work will be done out of the OpenCongress office in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan on weekday afternoons between 1pm and 6pm from approximately mid-May through mid-August. Interns will be required to work at least three days a week, but not necessarily five days a week – this is because we want to be able to accommodate people who may need to also work a paid summer job. Preference is given to individuals with experience in web programming and design, but people from other backgrounds and skill areas are sought as well. In other words, you don’t need to be a programmer, graphic designer, or political science student to intern with OpenCongress – you just need to have a basic interest in politics and government. OpenCongress seeks a diverse community of team members as well as a large & active user community on the site. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply. For students, OpenCongress is willing to work closely with faculty and administration to ensure that internships count towards appropriate academic credits or other requirements.

We wish we could subsidize the entire summer experience for interns, but our resources are extremely limited, so here’s what we can do. We can subsidize travel to our office via public transit – good news, our office in SoHo is mere blocks away from tons of subway lines and bus routes, so if you’re anywhere in the NYC area, it’s easy to get to.. Once you’re here, there will be no other required expenses, and we’ll provide water & coffee. Beyond that, meals and entertainment will not be covered, but we definitely can recommend some good inexpensive places to eat around our office. While we sincerely wish that we could provide computers, we simply don’t have them at this time, so interns are required to provide their own computers with internet access. Overall, we enjoy a friendly & casual shared office space.

To apply for positions in New York City, interns should send a resume and at least three references to David Moore, OpenCongress Program Manager, at david@opencongress.org, along with one short paragraph expressing why you’re interested in helping to develop OpenCongress. For more details please contact that same email. Again, the internship schedule is flexible, and we’re open to applications from a variety of backgrounds. Thanks for reading.

Washington, DC

We also have paid full- and part-time research internship positions out of the Sunlight Foundation office in Washington, DC. The internship is designed for college juniors, seniors or graduate students majoring in journalism, political science, government, public policy or history, or other students with a demonstrated interest in United States politics and government.

D.C. interns will work with the Sunlight Foundation’s communications team and OpenCongress Senior Editor Conor Kenney and Community Manager Avelino Maestas in researching legislation and public corruption, publishing research online and fostering citizen journalism. Responsibilities include monitoring diverse news sources and online commentary, writing articles and assisting in the administration of the OpenCongress wiki. Interns will receive hands-on training in the latest tools citizens and organizations use to hold Congress accountable, including wikis, blogs and other forms of citizen journalism.

Applicants should be familiar with online news sites and the general political landscape and have good organizational, writing and Internet research skills. Applicants must have basic computer skills; knowledge of wikis and HTML is helpful but not necessary. Also, they should be able to work unsupervised, have a commitment to the public interest and good government, and be able to set aside personal ideology and politics in professional work. Stipend is $7.55/hour.

Application deadline is May 1, 2009 (I know, sorry!). To apply, send a resume, cover letter, and an academic or journalistic writing sample to Hafeezah Abdullah at HAbdullah@sunlightfoundation.com. The writing sample should preferably show the ability to use multiple sources and/or be relevant to politics. Start date and end date are flexible. No phone calls. The Sunlight Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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