Sitting through a batch of meetings and hearings this week on Capitol Hill (during one of which I was about six feet from Hillary Clinton as she testified—very cool), I was reminded of the many opportunities available for an internationally-oriented career as a Congressional staffer. Every Senator and Representative has at least one staff member (usually a Legislative Assistant or Legislative Correspondent) who handles the foreign affairs portfolio. These staffers not only engage deeply on international issues (the Af-Pak situation, the Israeli-Palestinian situation, DoS exchange programs, expansion of the Foreign service, USAID programs and potential reshuffling and restructuring, to name just a few that were mentioned today), but also get to travel with their bosses quite a bit (one staffer I met with recently had just returned from Haiti and was headed to Cyprus, while another was off to China for the sixth time in three years).
I’m less familiar with the international opportunities in the district/state offices, but they also exist. International travel is less frequent for the non-DC offices, I would bet, but opportunities to work on the foreign affairs portfolio would still be there.
Also, in addition to working for a Member, there also exist opportunities to work on the staff of internationally-oriented Congressional committees—for example, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (which fund the State Department and most government international activities), to name the most prominent.