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Intern with OpenCongress

April 15, 2010 - by David Moore

Students of all backgrounds are invited to intern with OpenCongress over the summer of 2010. We have opportunities in New York, NY and Washington, D.C. Please see below for how to apply, it’s easy. Even if you’re not a student, you can still help spread the word by re-tweeting this announcement, by joining our Facebook group, or by emailing this blog post to a student you know — here’s a handy link to copy-and-paste in your email :: .

Why intern w/ OC? First, we’re the most-visited government transparency website in the United States. You’ll be working on a site that receives one million visits per month and continues to trend upwards — so your individual work will contribute significantly to broader public knowledge about Congress. We’re a free and open-source project, meaning that you’ll be doing your part to support openness on the Web. We’re a non-profit organization, so our mission is for the public benefit, not to chase customers or email signups. Our site is non-partisan, so you won’t be working on just one side of a debate — you’ll be covering the entirety of contemporary political discourse.

(Right: downtown NYC hustlin’, not far from the OC offices.) 

What’s more, we’re bold enough to claim the crown of offering the best summer internship experience in the non-profit Web world. As an organization, the Participatory Politics Foundation (we created and operate OC) is truly flat & non-hierarchical… interns will have full access to all team members and the OpenCongress site development process (which is open and collaborative anyway). Our background is in the free culture movement — our sibling non-profit PCF works on amazing community projects like Miro Community and the Open Video Alliance. In NYC you’ll be working out of the shared PPF/PCF office in downtown Manhattan (near tons of subways & buses & museums & great affordable eating options), and in D.C. you’ll be working out of the office of our much-appreciated partners, the terrific Sunlight Foundation, in the DuPont Circle area (right by the Metro).

How do interns work on OC & help us move forward day-to-day? First and foremost is assisting site editors with daily site maintenance: community management, customer support, site analytics reporting, basic usability testing. Second is blogging, researching, fact-checking, outreach to bloggers and issue-based organizations, and being active on our official social media accounts — for sure you’ll be able to publish on our blog & Twitter & etc. with posts on topics you propose and on research topics recommended by friendly OC site editors. Third, we have some pretty cool tools built for search engine optimization on our web pages that you’ll be able to administer — this is remarkably good work experience for other online ventures you may create or pursue in the future. Fourth is whatever you suggest — we’re interested in your thoughts & ideas for projects. For a sample, see these two posts by Isabelle Cutting, one of three terrific OC Interns & Research Assistants from last summer — the first on a specific topic, the second on what was trending in early July 2009 among OC users.

Wheatpaste poster near OC's downtown NYC office

(Left: wheatpaste poster near our downtown NYC office, paste-up by Haculla, c-c image by SliceofNYC).

As a non-profit effort, we unfortunately don’t have the budget to provide a salary or paid stipend for interns, so this is a volunteer internship. But that said, we’ll work with you to make it possible to intern with us, even if you need to hold down a paid job for part of the week or part of the summer — we deeply understand the financial realities of being a college/university student. Also, while you’re here in the office we have plenty of coffee/tea/snacks/tacos, it’s a good scene. You can get to either the NYC or DC offices by public transportation, so no car necessary. Speaking of, what kind of intern are we looking for? Just get in touch — whether your’re a student in computer science, political science, humanities, sciences, social sciences … public or private college or university or community college… basically, if you’re interested in facilitating online civic engagement and combating systemic corruption (see: FixCongressFirst) and encouraging radical transparency in government at all levels, you might enjoy working with us and we should email.

To apply: email writeus @ opencongress d0t org with the subject heading “student internship” — attach your resume, two references, and a brief note of introduction (about three paragraphs in the body of the email) explaining why you’re interested in interning with OC, and whether you’re aiming for NYC or D.C. or either one. Our start & end dates are flexible. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply.

We will write back to all applications with more details or to schedule a phone/Skype interview. As the above hopefully made clear, we’re flexible and fairly informal — see last year’s announcement for helpful context & more details. Even if you might not accept our internship offer, if you think you might possibly be free to come work with us you should apply… best to have options, chyeah? Feel free to contact us with questions & comments at that same email address, and thanks for reading.

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