Native American Congressional Internship

Apply - Advice and Guidance

Here you will find advice from the Udall Foundation, the Internship selection committee, and our alumni that will help you prepare an effective application for the Udall Internship.

Advice from the Udall Foundation

Think of the internship application as a personal statement
Approach each short essay as if it were part of one long personal statement, instead of a series of disconnected questions. Your application should reveal to our readers: who am I? Who do I want to be? What kind of contribution do I want to make, and how? Why does my career plan make sense, and why is the internship right for me?

Use the short essays to

  • Demonstrate your values, interests and motivation to support tribal communities, or pursue a career related to tribal government and/or public policy;
  • Provide insight into your goals and aspirations, both personal and professional;
  • Demonstrate any skills or knowledge that will be useful in a congressional office or agency; and
  • Alert the Udall Foundation to any unusual circumstances or hardship that may have affected your academic performance or limited your activities.

Research the life and legacy of Morris Udall or Stewart Udall
The Udall essay should demonstrate:

  • Excellent research ability, by using and citing outside sources;
  • Outstanding writing and communication skills. Congressional interns should have strong writing skills in order to be assigned substantive projects; and
  • Your knowledge of Morris Udall or Stewart Udall's commitment to Native American and/or environmental issues.

A strong essay will follow a two-part structure. The first part should be a critical analysis of the legislation or policy statement, the issues it addresses, and its impact. The second part should relate these issues to your interests and career goals.

Select recommenders who can attest to your

  • Commitment to and potential for making a difference in your tribal communities or regarding issues affecting Indian country;
  • Maturity and responsibility;
  • Leadership and ability to take initiative;
  • Academic and professional achievements; and
  • Other personal characteristics.

Limit your resume to two pages
Include both paid and volunteer work experience. Briefly identify or explain any honors or activities that readers are unlikely to understand (one sentence maximum).

Be sure that your application is free of grammatical and typographical errors
The application form, essay and resume must be typed or word-processed. Handwritten applications will not be accepted.

A few additional words of advice

  • Start early. Leave yourself plenty of time to revise your application;
  • Get feedback. It's hard to be objective about your own writing, particularly when the topic is YOU. Ask professors, advisors, and friends to read your application and give you honest feedback; and
  • Revise, then revise again! First drafts are never as good as 2nd or 3rd drafts. Give yourself time between drafts to reread your writing with fresh eyes.

Tips from the Selection Committee

Be professional
You're not just applying for an internship opportunity; you are applying for a job. Your application may be read by congressional or federal agency staff that are considering you as an intern for their office.

Show your commitment
Tell us about your participation in campus and community activities, such as Native American clubs, and pow-wows or ceremonies. Have you volunteered with non-profit organizations that benefit American Indians, such as a Boys & Girls club or law clinic? How will you give back to your tribal community or to Indian country?

Connect the dots
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 Udall Internship is the logical next step in your educational and professional development.

Reveal your get-up-and-go
Tell us how you’ve made the most of your opportunities. Highlight experiences that demonstrate your ability to adapt to the fast-paced work environment of a congressional or agency office.

Pay attention to style and presentation
Tone, grammatical errors, and carelessness will impact how we perceive you as a professional. Do write in your own voice, but be sure it's your professional voice.

Advice from Alumni

Use the Udall essay to demonstrate your writing and research ability
These will be your most useful skills as a Udall Intern and will ensure your office supervisor gives you substantial assignments.

Give yourself two to three weeks to complete and edit the application
Spend some time editing your responses and find someone to look over your materials as well.

If you applied before, don’t get discouraged!
Call the Udall Foundation and ask for comments or assistance for the next application cycle. This helps identify the weak spots in your application. The extra time and effort is worth it!

Connect with someone who has already done the program
Be very specific in your responses and don't rush the application. Take your time to work with each section!

Emphasize your leadership
As a Udall Foundation Intern, you're expected to take on individual projects and show initiative, creativity, and responsibility. If you already possess leadership qualities, you will excel in an office environment where you have the freedom to propose projects and have the opportunity to tackle those problems alone.

Highlight your community outreach and future goals in your application
The Udall program really values bringing Native perspectives to government and politics. Students who are dedicated to helping their home communities, their tribe, or Indian Country as a whole are ideal candidates for the program! In my essay, I was very honest about my goals for the future and how my background, as a member of the Navajo Nation, led me to pursue policy issues in Washington, D.C.