Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago

The City of Chicago is strongly committed to improving public services for its citizens.  Attaining this goal requires the hard work and dedication of qualified public service professionals.

The Mayor’s Office attracts bright, highly motivated individuals, gives them a broad overview of municipal government and provides a unique, “hands-on” experience. The Director's Intern will participate in budgetary, legislative, and programmatic areas of city government and work directly with Mayor’s Office staff.  The Director's Intern afforded an unparalleled opportunity to learn about public service and policy-making by directly contributing to the executive office of the City of Chicago.


Through the Mayor’s Office Director's Internship, you may accomplish the following:

  • Develop new initiatives that keep Chicago green;
  • Research ways to keep Chicago affordable;
  • Work on workforce development initiatives targeting specific industries; 
  • Outline best practices in public safety programs and youth engagement; 
  • Research and compare housing-related policies in U.S. cities;
  • Create innovative solutions to traffic and infrastructure challenges;
  • Recommend ways to better integrate technology with City functions; 
  • Analyze information on regional issues and Great Lakes policies;
  • Create new programs that connect City residents with the great cultural resources of Chicago.

This Director's Internship will work closely with our Mayor’s Office Fellowship Program throughout the course of the summer.  The Harvard IOP Intern will have the opportunity to work alongside top level graduate students from a variety of disciplines, from graduate institutions throughout the country.

The Mayor’s Office encourages students from all disciplines to apply. While there are no preferences to specific fields or majors, the program seeks candidates who are enthusiastic to learn about city government and have demonstrated a substantial commitment to excellence as evidenced by academic honors, leadership ability, extracurricular activities, and involvement in community or public service.

International students must have an F-1 Student Visa and must be a full-time student.  International students are required to have a social security number/card which states “VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION.” Harvard can assist international students with obtaining authorization.

2015 Intern Reflection:

The Mayor’s Office of Chicago is in charge of creating new policies and programs that keep the third-largest city in America economically-healthy and environmentally-friendly. As a Mayoral Fellow, I get a unique first-hand look at this policy-making process. Life in the Mayor’s Office is fast-paced, but my work is rewarding and everyone is incredibly welcoming. There are 27 students in the program, 4 of whom are undergrads. We work with senior-level staff from all departments of city government, creating innovative policy that makes the city more efficient, affordable, and resilient. Our work includes streamlining current city programs, researching best practices policies from other cities, and analyzing information from around Chicago in order to make sure public policy is effective and data-driven.  I especially enjoy the fact that I get a say in what projects I work on, so the work I do matches my interests and skill set.

One of the best aspects of this program is the weekly discussions with city officials, often accompanied with tours of government sites around Chicago. We’ve heard from a panel of aldermen on the City Council, talked finance with the city’s Budget Director, and discussed gun violence with the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. We’ve also seen the inner-workings of O’Hare Airport, the Water Treatment Facility, and more. Every day is something new, and I am continually amazed by all of the people and programs that keep Chicago running. This internship is a great way to get hands-on experience creating and assessing public policy. Whether you’re from Chicago or not, the Mayor’s Office Fellowship is an incredibly valuable experience, and I definitely would recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in municipal government.

Steve Buschbach '16

2014 Director's Intern Reflection:

The Mayor’s Office of Chicago is responsible for developing innovative policies that work to make Chicago a greener, safer, and smarter city. The Office is extremely fast-paced and deals with everything from juvenile crime prevention to small business development and environmental sustainability. As a Mayoral Fellow, I have the opportunity to work with senior level staff on these projects. Some of my responsibilities include conducting policy research, evaluating best practices in neighboring cities, and assessing existing programs. Because I work on several projects at one time, I am truly getting a comprehensive overview of how a big city functions.

The work is challenging but fulfilling, and the people I work with are great. I am one of 28 Mayoral Fellows, and because it is a mix of grad students and undergrads from around the country, I find myself learning a lot just by interacting with my co-workers. Besides working on policy projects, the Mayor’s Office hosts several talks and tours each week for the Fellows. The talks vary in scope but included representatives from the Office of Public Engagement and various policy directors. The tours provide a glimpse into the various organizations that keep Chicago running smoothly. Our visits included the Water Treatment Facility and the Chicago Police Department Training Academy. The best thing about this internship is that each day is different, exciting, and interesting. I recommend this internship to anyone with an interest in city government or public policy.

Joe Sessions '16

2013 Director's Intern Reflection:

The Mayor's Office of Chicago is the hub of policymaking for the city.  It is a fast-paced, forward-thinking office that tackles everything from violence prevention to economic development and sustainability.  As a Mayoral Fellow, I get to work on a variety of projects that involve researching policies, implementing new programs, and assessing existing ones.  Because we are given a lot of autonomy over our projects, it feels like we really work here!

The office culture is great, the work is quite substantive, and the people (other Fellows) are fun.  There are 28 students in the Fellows program, including 22 graduate students and 6 undergrads.  The Mayor’s Office also hosts a number of talks and tours each week just for the Fellows, which has been an amazing (not to mention efficient) way to gain exposure to almost every facet of municipal government.  For example, we've been to the Chicago Police Department Training Academy, Water Treatment Facility, and City Council, and we've attended talks by several Aldermen, the Deputy Chief of Staff, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, among others.  I’d definitely recommend this internship for anyone with an interest in city government! 

Ethan Barhydt ‘14

Chicago, IL
Elected Officials, Federal /State and Local Government