How to Write a Cover Letter for a Government Internship
A Cover Letter is More Than a Summary of Your Resume
A cover letter is frequently required, and recommended, along with your job application. It expresses your interest in the role, sums up your qualifications, and attempts to show how you are different than the other candidates.
What Makes a Good Cover Letter?
A good cover letter doesn't tell an employer what you want from a job; it tells them how you will help them. It demonstrates the strengths and benefits you will bring to the position and how your past experience will make it a quick transition.
Each cover letter you submit should be customized for the particular job description. Particularly when applying for a job in government, an individualized cover letter is essential. Government human resources departments frequently use computer programs to scan cover letters, and using keywords from the specific job description can help your application be recognized.
What Should a Cover Letter Look Like?
While cover letters used to be mailed or faxed, they are now almost exclusively emailed along with your resume. A cover letter for a government position would look like the below sample:
Dear Mr. Norton:
I would like to express my enthusiasm in applying for the position as a legislative intern at the New York Civil Liberties Union recently posted in The New York Times. As a prospective May 20XX graduate from Boston College with considerable writing and administrative experience, and a strong interest in law, public policy, and immigrant rights, I believe I am a strong candidate for the legislative intern position.
The job description states that you are looking for a candidate with a commitment to civil liberties, who has strong communication and interpersonal skills, excellent writing skills, organizational skills, and someone who is very detail oriented. As a government major currently involved in writing a thesis on immigration law and as someone who contributes regularly to several blogs focused on government and immigration issues, I have become a proficient and skilled writer. As an intern for Mayor Jones at the New Brunswick City Court House, I have developed strong interpersonal skills, acquired a basic knowledge of public affairs, and have polished my organizational and administrative skills. As a current intern and assistant to Tom Jones, Legislative Assistant for Attorney Bill Phillips, in New Brunswick, NY, I have further enhanced my quantitative and qualitative research, editing, writing, and administrative skills.
As a government major, I have spent the past four years of my academic career focusing on U.S. immigration politics and immigrant rights. I have taken courses in American Politics, Immigration Law I and II, Dissident Political Thought, Politics of Congress in addition to conducting several research projects in collaboration with Professor Jack Barnes at Boston College. My case research explored the civil rights of minorities who were recently denied jobs for which it appeared that they were fully qualified. While working on my thesis, I learned a great deal about the process of conducting legal research and in writing about civil rights litigation.
I have excelled in my academics and previous internships and jobs and feel that I would be an asset if I were selected to intern for the New York Civil Liberties Union.
I will call within a week to discuss my candidacy and see if we might arrange for mutually convenient time in which we can speak.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
A United States Senate Page (Senate Page or simply Page) is a non-partisan federal employee serving the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. Despite the non-partisan affiliation, pages are assigned to serve senators of the sponsoring senator's party.
In order to become a U.S. Senate Page, one must first be nominated by a Senator, generally from his or her State. A candidate must be at least a 16-year-old high school junior (11th grade), with at least a 3.0 GPA. Summer pages can be rising juniors or rising seniors and must have a GPA requirement of a 3.0 or higher. Processes for selection vary by state and senator. Typically, a senator's office will require the applicant submit a transcript, resume, and various essays. The process is similar to that of selecting an office employee, and may include interview of final applicants by a board of review.
Students can apply for appointment to one of four terms: a Fall semester (September–January), a Spring semester (January–June), a three- or four-week June session, and a three- or four-week July session.
During the school year, there are 30 Pages. The majority appoints 16, while the minority appoints 14.
Uniform and appearance
Because U.S. Senate Pages are required to wear uniforms while on the job, they are some of the most recognizable employees of the Senate. The uniform consists of a navy blue suit, a white, long sleeve, traditional dress shirt, a name badge, Page insignia lapel pin, and a plain, navy tie (males only).
As expected of most Senate employees, Pages are required to maintain a neat, professional appearance. Boys must be clean-shaven with hair kept short and neat, falling above their ears. Girls must also have their hair neat and kept out of their face. No extraneous jewelry is to be worn. If a page's appearance is deemed unsatisfactory during the work day he or she may be sent back to Webster Hall immediately.
Residence and free time
U.S. Senate Pages reside at the Daniel Webster Senate Page Residence. This facility is a former funeral home and was reconfigured in order to provide Pages with a home away from home during their time in Washington. Administration and staff include the Page Program Director, Administrative Assistant, four resident Proctors, and one non-resident Proctor.
Pages are held to extremely high academic and moral standards. They are subject to strict curfews, are prohibited from having personal cell phones or internet access at Webster Hall (with the exception of Senate computers used for school work), and maintain demanding schedules. Pages may be issued demerits, be required to have an earlier curfew, or be restricted to their dorm at certain hours for rule violations. Although Pages are allowed to have personal electronic devices (excluding mobile phones), they may not take photographs or videos, given the confidential nature of their jobs.
The living quarters at Webster Hall cover two floors, one for male Pages, the other for female Pages. Each floor has a day room for social activity. All Pages share furnished rooms with other Pages and each room is designed for four or six occupants. Each room has closet space, a bathroom, and a single telephone. The Senate Page School, laundry facilities and a kitchen are located on the basement level.
The program provides the pages with two meals per day, seven days per week. Breakfast is provided at the residence. Lunch is provided on weekdays through a meal card at the Senate Cafeterias. On Saturdays, lunch or dinner is usually provided through a voucher for a meal at Union Station or a local eatery, or if the Pages are on a field trip, lunch or dinner will be provided on the trip. On Sundays, the program provides dinner at the residence, or goes out to a restaurant.
The United States Capitol Police maintains a 24-hour post at Webster Hall as well as outside foot and car patrols. Their responsibility is to provide security for the facility and its occupants and to monitor access to the building. Webster Hall is monitored by a security alarm system.
When not at school or at work, Pages are given some liberty with their free time. Pages are subject to a strict curfew—9:00 p.m. on school nights and 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights—and are expected to maintain high standards of behavior. While Pages are not permitted to bring personal vehicles with them to the District of Columbia, they are encouraged to use the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
On weekends without school or work commitments, Pages spend their time working on school assignments, touring the many attractions in the D.C. area, or simply relaxing from a long week's work. For holidays, Pages return home for Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks; the residence is closed during these periods.
The Senate Sergeant at Arms is responsible for Webster Hall. Pages are required to keep their living spaces in orderly condition, and are subject to room inspections five days a week. Beds must be made, personal items must be stored away, and chores must have been completed.
Before the move to Webster Hall, both the House and Senate Pages shared a living space in the former House Office Building Annex #1 (also referred to as the O'Neill Building, which has since been torn down).
U.S. Senate Pages (who serve during either of the semester programs) attend school located in the lower level of Webster Hall. The U.S. Senate Page School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The Page School requires each student to enroll in four classes, in the various subjects of mathematics, science, English, and social studies. Foreign language tutoring is available. Usually the students receive 5 to 6 hours of homework each night. If they do not maintain at least a C in each class, they are subject to dismissal.
Classes begin weekdays at 6:15 a.m., with class length depending on the Senate schedule. Generally, school ends one hour and 15 minutes before the Senate convenes. If the Senate does not convene, or convenes at 11:00 a.m. or later, school ends at 9:45 a.m. It is possible to have classes as short as 20 minutes, or no classes at all. This is affected by what time the Senate convenes as well as what time it adjourned the previous day. If the Senate is in recess, classes may run as late as noon.
Pages must be in uniform for classes, and may not enter the Page School otherwise (except on weekends to access the library).
The Page School supervises Student Government and the preparation of a yearbook. It also administers Page class rings, which have the Senate emblem and session of the Congress in place of a typical high school's mascot.
Pages are also required to participate in school field trips. Run by the Senate Page School, they are conducted approximately one Saturday a month to sites in or around Washington. These field trips are usually at historically oriented landmarks in the mid-Atlantic area (i.e. Liberty Bell, Philadelphia; DuPont Mills, Delaware; etc.)
Julie E. Adams, the Secretary of the Senate, is responsible for the United States Senate Page School.
Prior to the page residence being moved to Webster Hall, the U.S. Senate Page School was housed in the attic of the Library of Congress. 
During the summer sessions only, pages may live at home or in the homes of their relatives in the Washington, D.C., area. Commuter summer pages fulfill the same duties as the residential summer pages, except that they arrive at 9:00 a.m. and depart at 6:00 p.m. regardless of the action of the Senate that day (residential pages are required to stay until after the Senate adjourns for the day). Commuter pages are allowed to participate in field trips with the other pages. Summer Pages do not attend the Senate Page School.
The Page's work life revolves around the Capitol. A Page serves the party of his/her appointing Senator. Pages are employed by the Sergeant at Arms. The supervision of the Pages at work has been delegated to the Senate cloakrooms.
Senate Pages play an important role in the daily operation of the Senate. Page duties consist primarily of delivery of correspondence and legislative material within the Capitol Complex. Other duties include preparing the Senate Chamber for sessions, taking messages for Senators or calling them to the phone, carrying bills and amendments from the presiding officer's desk. Pages also retrieve lecterns, easels, and water for Senators and clerks. Between tasks when Senate is in session, pages sit along the steps of either side of the president pro tempore 's desk, maitaining availability to assist members on the floor.
When the Senate is in session for important business, filibusters, and emergency situations, pages may still be on duty and work into the early hours of the morning.
When the Senate is not in session, Pages work from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pages are compensated $25,605 per annum, from which are deducted federal and local (based upon the individual page's permanent residence) taxes and a $780 per month residence fee (unless they are a commuter page).
The job of page comes with many perks: working in the Senate Chamber and witnessing political action and legislative debates; access to most areas of the Capitol (such as the Senate Chamber, Marble Room, cloakrooms, and Senate lobby), a perk that most other Senate employees do not have; boarding on Capitol Hill with teenagers from all around the country; a chance to watch joint sessions of Congress, as well as the State of the Union Address; the opportunity to make use of the Library of Congress, United States Senate Library, and other facilities in the Capitol; a chance to tour and see much of what Washington, D.C. as well as surrounding areas and states have to offer; opportunities to meet visiting Heads of State and celebrities visiting the Capitol; daily interaction with senators and staff in a professional environment; the opportunity to meet Cabinet members and other elected officials.
The U.S. Senate Page Program has undergone massive scrutiny throughout the years. The House Page Program was shut down in 2011 , following multiple sex scandals involving Pages and members of Congress. While the Senate Page Program remained intact (although it underwent major adjustments), it is sometimes criticized as being overly patronage-based, too demanding on minors, and too isolating for its participants. Pages are not allowed to have personal cell phones during their tenure and are forbidden from accessing the internet at Webster Hall, except for educational purposes. Pages often get less than six hours of sleep a night and must maintain above an 80 percent average in rigorous courses, in addition to working sometimes over 60 hours a week at the Senate. Pages do, however, have free access to healthcare and counseling during their stay in D.C.
The Program has also been criticized by press and media for being too costly to continue. Some teachers at the Page School, teaching four classes each, make upwards of $150,000 USD a year. Pages are taken on expensive trips to Philadelphia and around D.C. and have full cleaning staff at Webster Hall.
Notable former Senate Pages
- Spiro Agnew (later Vice President)
- Donald Anderson - Clerk of the House 1987-1995
- Neil Gorsuch- Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
- Laura C. Dove- Current Secretary for the Majority Leader
- Bobby Baker - senior staffer to Lyndon B. Johnson
- Michael Bennet (later a Senator, D-CO)
- Dan Boren - Summer 1989 (later U.S. Congressman)
- Amy Carter
- Thomas M. Davis, 1963-1967 - (later U.S. Congressman)
- Christopher Dodd (later a Senator, D-CT)
- Josh Gottheimer (later a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, D-NJ)
- Jim Kolbe (later a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, R-AZ)
- Mike Lee (later a Senator, R-UT)
- Hannah Pingree, 1992 (later Speaker, Maine House of Representatives, 2008 - 2010; State Representative 2002 - 2011)
- Robby Mook (campaign manager, Hillary for America)
- Mark Pryor (later a Senator, D-AR)
- Gore Vidal, an American writer and public intellectual known for his essays, novels, and Broadway plays
- ^"U.S. Senate: Pages". Retrieved 9 August 2017.
- ^"HISTORY OF THE SENATE PAGE SCHOOL"(PDF). United States Senate.
- ^Amy Goldstein and Elizabeth Williamson (21 October 2006). "In Interviews, Pages Say Foley Befriended Wide Circle". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-03.
- ^"Boren statement on Mark Foley investigation". Archived from the original on 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-11-03.
- ^ ab2007 Congressional Record, Vol. 153, Page H768
- ^Palmer, Joanne (February 14, 2014). "'And then the phone rang…'; Wyckoff man's adventures in politics and public service"". The Times of Israel. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- ^Jonathan Weisman and James V. Grimaldi, "Kolbe Matter Is Referred to House Ethics Panel: Allegations Involve Contact With Male Former Pages", The Washington Post, October 18, 2006
- ^http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20161019/FEATURES/161019641: Allen K. Lunde: "He was a Senate page as a teenager because his grandfather, who was a senator, was blind and needed him to be his eyes."