Policy Internship 2019-06-19T09:35:18+00:00

COL Policy Internship

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s year-long policy internship provides students and recent graduates with an opportunity to learn about federal science policy in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, interns have come from a variety of backgrounds, countries, disciplines, and institutions and have made significant contributions to the mission and work of COL.

“The Policy Internship at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) was an extremely valuable and education experience, I would suggest it to anyone who wants to get their foot into the policy sector. I come from a hard ocean science background, having conducted research for years, and recognize the importance of communicating research findings. This internship provided me with a first-hand policy experience, networking opportunities, and experience what it’s like working at a nonprofit in the Washington, D.C. policy sector. I gained a firm understanding of current legislation governing our marine resources, as well as broadened my own interests by composing the weekly newsletter. The team at COL is extremely welcoming, passionate about their work, and provided many opportunities for me to further my career. All of this and more contributed to a fantastic experience working at COL!”

– Nick Hunt, M.A., Summer 2015 Policy Intern

“My undergraduate studies sparked my interest in the growing need for interdisciplinary solutions to ocean issues, and the policy internship at Consortium for Ocean Leadership seemed like the perfect place to begin. The internship fully lived up to my expectations (and then some!) and was an extraordinary learning experience. The COL Public Affairs team went out of their way to support my professional growth and hone my writing and communications skills, and I always felt that my work was valuable. Over the course of my internship, I attended more than a dozen hearings on Capitol Hill, authored 46 policy articles for the COL weekly newsletter, tracked ocean science and policy news, and managed COL’s website updates. I dove headfirst into the legislative process and walked away with an in-depth understanding of current ocean policy issues on Capitol Hill and feel more inspired than ever to make a difference. In the future, I plan to attend graduate school for marine science, and I know my experience at COL will bring a unique policy perspective to the table.”

– Casey MacLean, Summer 2017 Policy Intern

“Following a Knauss Fellowship on the Hill, working with Consortium for Ocean Leadership provided me a new and unique experience of seeing behind-the-scenes of how an ocean policy and communications team functioned and excelled on a day-to-day basis. This internship immerses you into the fast-paced world of marine policy, and you are quickly integrated as an essential staff member and part of the team. My writing skills and attention to detail greatly improved with guidance from my supervisors, who made me feel welcome and extremely appreciated. I also was able to represent COL at several briefings on the Hill, as well as at an illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing roundtable with the Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The opportunity to expand my policy and science communication knowledge with COL was invaluable, and I regret I could not stay longer!”

–Zoe Gentes, M.S., Spring 2017 Policy Intern

“I came to D.C. from California because I strongly believe in the mission of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership: understanding the ocean and its impacts and taking action in support of them. Attending hearings and science policy events was a great way to quickly gain a broad understanding of pressing marine policy issues and the legislative process. A highlight was meeting with Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) to discuss the impacts of ocean acidification and climate change along a stretch of the California coast very dear to me. In the office, I honed written communication skills by reporting on new legislation, and I learned behind-the-scenes policy efforts. While I have a solid background in ocean science, I was looking to gain a policy perspective, and the internship afforded me the opportunity to bridge the two. Overall, this was a valuable learning experience I will take with me in future endeavors.”

– Wendy Kordesch, Winter 2017 Policy Intern

“My time as a policy intern at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) was an invaluable experience for my professional career. I came to COL with a pure science background but wanted to learn more about the policy processes behind the scientific enterprise in the U.S. The internship provided me with an extensive knowledge of ocean science legislation, how the legislative and decision-making processes work, and how organizations like COL and other stakeholders can have an impact. I was able to improve my writing skills by writing for the weekly newsletter and built upon my professional communication skills by assisting with COL’s social media campaigns.  I also greatly enjoyed helping out with COL’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl by serving on the biology Technical Advisory Panel. All of my different duties and projects that I worked on as an intern contributed to an incredibly well-rounded experience and provided me with knowledge and skills that I will use throughout my entire professional career in the marine science world. The COL team always made me feel like a true team member. They were always there to help me excel at the position and offer guidance and opportunities to further my career and broaden my interests. I highly recommend this internship for anyone who is interested in the policy side of the marine science world and wants to truly make an impact while adding to their own professional experiences!”

– Grace Roskar, Spring 2016 Policy Intern

“The policy internship at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership afforded me the opportunity to put my ocean and climate research background into practice. Through attending congressional hearings, scientific briefings, and meetings on Capitol Hill, I gained a better understanding of the federal government’s legislative process. I also met with Senator Angus King from my home state of Maine, a strong advocate for climate change science, who gave me a copy of his favorite chart illustrating the link between temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Overall, the position improved my skills in written and oral communication to a broad audience, project management, organization, collaboration, leadership, database management, and website editing. I now have a broader knowledge about ocean policy and the legislative process.”

– Aurora Elmore, Summer 2016 Policy Intern

“I highly recommend the Policy Internship at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership for anyone interested in pursuing a career in science policy. Through the internship, I was able to experience the policy-making process first-hand and to form a professional network in D.C. The internship offered insights into the policy world that I would have never gained from taking classes or workshops. I came in not knowing much beyond the basics of the political system and the policy-making process, but quickly learned the current state of ocean related legislation and the stakeholders involved in shaping them. Through attending hearings and briefings on the Hill and writing for the weekly newsletter, I greatly improved my writing and communications skills. The team at Ocean Leadership was very welcoming and I made me feel an integral part of the team.”

– Tamaki Bieri, Ph.D, Fall 2015 Policy Intern

“As a marine scientist I was completely engrossed in my research with little understanding of how it might help shape ocean policy. While I was aware of the importance of policymaking and had the desire to bridge that gap in understanding, I basically had no clue where to start or how to engage in the legislative process. For these reasons I applied for the internship at Ocean Leadership (OL), and I’m glad I did as my experience at OL far surpassed the expertise that I thought I would gain as a policy intern! I must admit that coming from a research background with no knowledge of the U.S. political system (I’m Canadian) made this internship a steep learning curve for me, but being immersed in the field alongside supportive team members really helped me obtain a firm grasp of ocean policy and the legislative process. I not only saw how laws were made, but also gained an understanding of scientist involvement in this process. Most importantly, the dedicated team at OL continuously presented me with unique legislative opportunities; aside from my weekly tasks, I participated in Hill meetings, read and commented on science related bills to Congress, directly liaised with Congressional staff members to schedule Hill meetings, and helped plan the Public Policy Forum on a highly stimulating topic, “Predicting and Preparing for a Changing Arctic.” These activities not only helped me apply the knowledge that I harvested at OL, but also gave me a voice (as an ocean scientist) in Congress.

Engaging in ocean policy is something I will continue to do as I return to academia since I truly believe that research and policy go hand in hand. By bridging the gap between ocean policy and science, this internship has placed me in a better position to help shape scientifically sound policies. In view of these facts, I highly recommend that scientists participate in the OL policy internship.”

– Angela Stevenson, Ph.D., Spring 2015 Policy Intern

“My internship with Consortium for Ocean Leadership was an incredibly valuable experience. My primary goal was to gain a deeper understanding of how the federal government operates, which is exactly what I got and more. In just three months, I learned a great deal not only about ongoing ocean-related issues and Congressional operations, but also about my own professional development. My supervisor was (and still is) very much a mentor for me and was interested in helping me grow professionally once I left COL. In fact, all of the staff I interacted with at COL were very welcoming and never did I feel like ‘just an intern’.”

– Courtney Edwards, Summer 2014 Policy Intern

“The Policy Internship was truly a great experience for me! Prior to the internship, I was involved with grassroots organizations that focused on ocean conservation issues and policies. However, having the opportunity to learn more about legislation pertinent to ocean sciences, compose the weekly newsletters, and assist with the 2014 Policy Forum was invaluable. I enjoyed working with a dedicated team of policy experts and learning more about the different scientific programs. The experience ultimately led me to work for Congresswoman Shea-Porter, who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.”

– Gina Davenport, Spring 2014 Policy Intern

“I loved my time at Ocean Leadership. I gained invaluable experience and left with a solid understanding of policy and management issues facing today’s oceans and coasts. I can’t say enough about Ocean Leadership’s employees, who are all knowledgeable and passionate about their work. I enjoyed going to work every day and am proud to have interned for such an effective organization.”

– Allison Hays, M.S., Fall 2013 Policy Intern

“The Policy Internship at Ocean Leadership helped launch my career in the marine policy arena. The internship provided me with a deeper understanding of the political processes in Washington, DC, especially through the opportunity to attend hearings on the Hill and tracking ocean legislation. Through the activities that I was responsible for, including writing the policy section of the weekly Ocean News Weekly and updating the Legislative Tracker, I saw myself making a real impact on advancing ocean science communications to the general public. My time at Ocean Leadership inspired me to apply to the NOAA Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, where I am working on marine policy issues at the Department of Energy.”

– Alexis Martin, Summer 2013 Policy Intern


The policy internship is designed to further professional development for current or recently-graduated students through work with COL’s Public Affairs team. The intern learns about the federal legislative process and becomes more familiar with current science and ocean policy issues. He/she is responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on relevant bills and legislative hearings; contributing to the policy section of the weekly newsletter; developing information for congressional members and committees; attending hearings and briefings on behalf of COL; maintaining sections of our website; and pursuing other items on COL’s policy agenda. The intern may also have the opportunity to work on projects with other departments and on a variety of educational initiatives.

Preference is given to students in good standing at a COL member institution; therefore it is recommended that interested students seek out support for their application from their university’s COL representative via a sponsorship letter. Interested applicants should provide a writing sample (less than three pages), a cover letter, a C.V. or resume, and a letter of recommendation (or sponsorship letter if applying from a COL member institution) from a university representative or faculty member.  Incomplete application packages won’t be considered. Sponsorship and recommendation letters may be sent directly from the reference.

The intern will be paid an hourly rate of $14.00 and will be eligible for certain benefits including medical, dental, and vision insurance, as well as holiday pay, accrued sick leave, retirement plan participation and a commuting subsidy.

Internships will run for approximately one year, starting in August/September (specific start and end dates are flexible). The deadline for applications is July 13. Individuals who gain interest after the application deadline should contact jobs@oceanleadership.org to inquire about availability.

Application Requirements:

  • a cover letter,
  • a C.V. or resume,
  • a writing sample (must be three pages or less, excerpts allowed),
  • a letter of recommendation (and/or sponsorship letter if applying from a COL member institution) from a university representative or faculty member.

Incomplete application packages and additional materials won’t be considered. All document pages and file names must include applicant’s last name.

For more information or to submit your application materials, contact:

e-mail address: jobs@oceanleadership.org
mailing address: 1201 New York Ave., N.W., 4th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005
phone: (202) 787-1644.