The Office of Federal Relations is committed to fostering meaningful connections between the university and the federal government through our resources, events, and programs. A key part of that commitment means supporting our faculty, staff, and students as they seek out opportunities to engage on the range of issues impacting the country.
Our programming geared to VU students and trainees – including undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows – aims to support individuals in their career exploration and provide real-world exposure to the federal education and research policy communities.
We aim to support faculty and staff as they engage with federal policy makers – including when they testify at a congressional hearing or advocate for their discipline through a scientific society.
The Office of Federal Relations hosts in-person Federal Forums on campus for faculty and staff. Typically held annually, these forums allow our team to highlight some of the pressing federal issues facing research universities in Washington.
Past topics have included:
- Investing in the Future? FY 2024 Funding Outlook for Research and Higher Ed (September 2023)
- The CHIPS and Science Act: A New Era in U.S. Innovation Policy? (September 2022)
- New Congress, New Administration: Expectations and Outlook of the First 100 Days (March 2021)
The Office of Federal Relations hosts office hour sessions when our DC-based team is on campus. Faculty and staff are invited to bring their federal policy questions to the OFR team. The goal of our office hours is to provide another connection point between the federal relations team and the Vanderbilt community to discuss federal policy issues and answer questions in an informal setting.
Interested community members will receive updates about upcoming office hours. For more information, please contact us.
Federal STEM Policy and Advocacy Seminar
For students and trainees exploring a possible career in science policy or more generally interested in research and education advocacy, OFR hosts a biennial Federal STEM Policy & Advocacy Seminar in close partnership with several campus-based offices. The program is inspired by the AAAS Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop, however, the specific content is tailored to the interests of the Vanderbilt University community.
We anticipate the event will take place next in Fall 2024 in Washington, D.C. Please check back later for more details.
Questions? Contact us.
Past seminars have included STEM policy career panels, including information about science policy fellowships, jobs on Capitol Hill, and jobs in the executive branch. Seminars also provide introductory information on U.S. science and technology policy, federal research and development budgets and advocacy.
Summer Internship Program
The Office of Federal Relations invites students with ties to Vanderbilt University or Tennessee who are interested in higher education or science public policy issues to apply for our summer internship.
This internship will provide you with a firsthand look at the federal policymaking process and the role that advocates play in influencing public policy. As one of the nation's leading research universities, Vanderbilt University plays an important role in the federal process. Both as a recipient of federal grant funding and an expert provider of cutting-edge research and analysis, Vanderbilt's voice is vital to the consideration of national policy issues. Among the many topics on which the Office of Federal Relations focuses are funding for research in science, engineering, social sciences, education, and the humanities; higher education policy; student aid; tax issues; and policies related to international students and scholars.
As an intern, your responsibilities may include:
- Researching public policy initiatives related to the university’s federal policy priorities
- Tracking and analyzing federal legislation related to the university’s priorities
- Attending or watching congressional hearings and other relevant briefings and providing summaries
- Assisting in developing a weekly e-newsletter that is sent to Capitol Hill staff
- Drafting social media content to support our advocacy efforts
- Updating communications tools
The ideal candidate would have a strong interest in the role advocacy plays in the federal policy process and the issues of interest to the university. Strong writing and critical thinking skills are a must!
The summer internship may be paid or for academic credit, depending on the opportunities offered through your academic institution.
The summer internship is expected to be in-person in Washington, DC. This is typically a full time (40 hours per week) commitment. The internship typically lasts eight to ten weeks, beginning in early June and concluding by early August.
- Cover letter
- Writing sample no longer than 400 words on a policy topic of your choice
Please direct questions about the internship opportunity to Heather Bloemhard.
Vanderbilt University applicants may seek help on their application from their career advisor.
When Can I Apply?
Next Deadline: OFR is now accepting applications for the Summer 2024 internship. The deadline is January 24, 2024.
Contact Heather Bloemhard with any questions.
Other Student Worker Opportunities
The Office of Federal Relations invites Vanderbilt University students who are interested in higher education or science policy issues to apply for our student worker opportunity.
As a student worker with OFR, your responsibilities may include:
- Researching public policy initiatives related to the university’s federal policy priorities.
- Tracking federal legislation related to the university’s priorities.
- Watching virtual congressional hearings and other relevant briefings and preparing memo summaries.
- Assisting with developing content for our e-newsletter to Capitol Hill staff or social media.
- Updating various tools related to our advocacy efforts.
The opportunity would be ideal for a student with an interest in the role advocacy plays in the federal policy process. OFR’s student worker will demonstrate a high level of professionalism with an ability to appropriately manage sensitive information; strong writing and critical thinking skills are a must!
This opportunity will be campus-based and remote from OFR’s DC-based office. This will be a part-time position (8-10 hours/week) based on the student’s availability. Pay is commensurate with the student’s experience.
A complete application will include a resume and cover letter.
Please submit your application via HireADore or to Heather Bloemhard, Associate Director of Federal Relations, at email@example.com.
When Can I Apply?
We expect to recruit a student worker at the start of each academic year; however, additional opportunities may arise throughout the year. Opportunities will be posted on HireADore.