The NETWORK Associate Program is an 11-month intensive educational and professional development position in legislative advocacy rooted in the principles of Catholic Social Justice.
Designed to cultivate growth into a career in the advocacy, politics, research, communications, or organizing arenas, Associates develop practical, translatable skills by contributing to NETWORK’s daily operations and mission.
From late August through July, associates will immerse themselves in Washington D.C. and all it has to offer, undertaking experiences in legislative policy, research, lobbying, coalition-building, community organizing, curriculum development, networking, and media.
Associates will get the chance to create relationships with legislators and non-profit organizations throughout the area, as well as experience the ins and outs of the D.C. policy world.
The Associate Program gives individuals seeking their first professional experience the opportunity to learn about and engage in faith-based advocacy at a hands-on-level. You will be a fully involved member of NETWORK’s Staff.
Focused and engaging, this opportunity gives young professionals the chance to give back to the community by advocating for federal legislation that has the potential to improve the lives of millions of individuals and families.
An organization founded by Catholic Sisters, NETWORK is open to all who share our passion. The Associate Program is open to people from any faith or secular background who demonstrate:
- commitment to the mission, political goals, and values of NETWORK
- a passion for social, racial, and economic justice
- an interest in politics
- a commitment to anti-racism and dismantling oppressive systems (such as — but not limited to — sexism, ableism, and classism, hetero/cissexism, and xenophobia)
- effective written and oral communications skills
- ability to work both independently and in collaboration with others
- computer proficiency
- ability to multi-task
- a desire to work in a faith-based environment
Associates must be at least 21 years old. There is no official age limit, but the Associate Program is designed for people seeking their first professional experience.
At NETWORK, we strive for a workplace which reflects our nation’s diversity — particularly in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, nationality, ethnicity, and immigration status. We especially encourage applications from people of color, women, and people adversely impacted by federal policies.
Remember, you don’t need a degree in political science, you don’t have to be Catholic, and you don’t have to be fresh out of college. You do need the skills above and the passion – ignited by your work, your studies, or your life experience – for the demanding and rewarding work of advocating for social justice.
If this sounds like you, we would like to hear from you!
What Does the Associate Program Look Like for Each Position?
Communications Associate: Creates and edits media to effectively communicate NETWORK’s message to the press, our members, and our activists. Additionally, The Communications Associate works across multiple social media platforms to activate and engage our members.
Government Relations Associate: Takes on specific federal-level issues, learning about them in-depth, conducting research, and creating materials for NETWORK’s lobby work. Additionally, the Government Relations Associate attends and conducts lobby visits on Capitol Hill and participates in coalition meetings.
Grassroots Mobilization Associate: Cultivates relationships with communities across the country to connect people with politics. Additionally, the Grassroots Mobilization Associate develops and presents workshops to help the public understand the intersection of faith and politics.
*NETWORK has accepted more than one associate for each position before*
- $15,000 stipend
- Monthly housing stipend up to $800 added to your paycheck each month
- $100 commute benefit each month
- Two weeks (10 days) paid vacation
- Two personal days
- Twelve sick days a year
- Platinum health and dental plan – no deductions from your paychecks unless you choose higher coverage
- One-on-one mentorship
- Professional and spiritual development
- Free access to gym in building
- Automatic $100,000 life insurance policy
- Possible student loan deferral
ASSOCIATE PROGRAM FAQS
What is the timeline of the program?
The Associate Program starts in late August and ends July. Associates arrive in late August and undergo a two week onboarding process, in which they will learn the essentials of their position, NETWORK, and Washington, D.C. Following the two week onboarding, Associates will be ready to begin work in early September.
The Associate Program is enhanced by the team-building and connections that occur as Associates experience the program together. In addition, because NETWORK devotes substantial staff time and effort to conduct Associate onboarding and evaluations, we are unable to tailor this to individual schedules. If you are not able to start the program in late August and stay through July, this may not be the right year for you to apply to the Associate Program.
The Associate application process goes from January through April. Applications will be reviewed starting February 1. Interviews will be conducted throughout February and March. Selected applicants will be notified by April.
What is the difference between the associate positions?
The Communications Associate uses the media and digital platforms to effectively communicate NETWORK’s message to the press, our members, and activists. You will be a part of a Communications team that engages and activates our network through writing blogs, creating multi-media content, and disseminating NETWORK materials through email, website, social media, and traditional media. You will promote the NETWORK brand across all communications channels and vehicles. Key functions of this role include assisting with NETWORK’s website, social media presence, and media events.
In order to keep our activists educated and engaged, the Communications Associate learns a little bit about all of the issues NETWORK works on. You will work with other teams to integrate media and messaging strategies in major projects and NETWORK campaigns and ensure organizational consistency in all aspects of communication. This fast-paced position is perfect for a creative person with a high-attention to detail.
The Grassroots Mobilization Associate cultivates relationships with individuals, communities, and organizations across the country to educate and mobilize our network for political action. In this position, you will develop workshops and resources to help the public understand federal policies, the intersection of faith and politics, and effective lobbying strategies. You will educate student groups and others – e.g. leading workshops at conferences – on NETWORK’s policy issues, and mobilize individuals to optimize advocacy strategies.
The Grassroots Mobilization Team is responsible for growing, connecting, and nourishing our Spirit-filled network of justice seekers. You will work to organize our local advocates to build clout in key districts and also help coordinate our relationships among all who share our passions. This includes individual activists; faith-based advocacy groups; NETWORK-organized state groups; students, recent grads, and student groups; congregations of women religious; and other local/state coalition partners.
The Government Relations Associate takes on specific federal-level issues, learns about them in depth, and conducts day-to-day tasks that change with the political climate. Upon your arrival at NETWORK you will be assigned to a few issues after discussion with other Government Relations team members. Work on your issues may include: researching, attending coalition meetings with similar organizations, attending lobby visits, writing sign-on letters, creating one-page documents for the NETWORK website or Congressional staffers, and collaborating with the Grassroots Mobilization team to inform and mobilize our grassroots activists on your issues.
At times the work is more general, trying to educate and build general support for an issue, but other times the work is more detailed and specific, attempting to change the language of a bill, lobbying for increased co-sponsors, and then for the eventual passage of a bill. Either way, you will get to know the ins and outs of the issues you are assigned, and you will keep up to date with the latest information from Capitol Hill, across the nation, and abroad.
Does NETWORK provide housing?
NETWORK does not provide housing, but does provide a monthly housing stipend up to $800. While Associates are responsible for making their own housing arrangements, NETWORK can assist by providing contact information for group houses and trusted landlords. Most are accessible via DC’s public transportation system.
What is the work environment like?
You will join a group of progressive people committed to social justice who take the time to get to know one another and share fun and work. We hope you feel welcome and valued as a member of the NETWORK team.
The NETWORK staff are dedicated to finding alternative ways of working together that emphasize collaboration and communication. Our office works in teams, called “circles” and each of us contributes to the organizational management and gives input on major organizational decisions.
Our office works in “teams” and your team will be led by a staff member, who guide you and supervise your work. You will also collaborate with other staff members, give input on our educational and outreach efforts, and help craft our legislative strategy. As part of your “Other Associate Duties,” you may assist with fundraising, board relations, communications, Associate recruitment, database work, or grant-writing.
As a staff, we take time to reflect and get to know each other. Each day, most NETWORK employees gather for lunch in our conference and enjoy their meals together. Four times a year, we take time away from work and participate in a “Political Ministry Day,” where we reflect on Catholic Social Justice and the values that guide our work. And we throw some great parties!
We take pride in the fact that each year, participants in the Associate Program remark positively on the high level of responsibility they are given and the degree to which they participate in all facets of the organization.
How much administrative work is there?
The Associate Program is designed to be a substantive, full-time position with a high degree of responsibility. This is not a job where you will find yourself toiling away at the photocopier 38 hours per week and engaging in program during the other 2 hours. You will be part of the legislative process – setting up and conducting lobby visits, attending coalition meetings, and mobilizing NETWORK members to take action – as well as part of the inner workings of the organization – participating in staff meetings and other organizational events.
Associates typically spend no more than 15% of their time doing administrative tasks such as photocopying, data entry, sorting constituent letters, and preparing our mailers.
You may be encouraged to know that NETWORK is a small organization committed to a collaborative style of work, so all staff and Associates perform some administrative work.
What do Associates do after the program?
Associates have taken a variety of paths after their service with NETWORK. Here’s a sampling of what some former Associates have done:
- Alison was hired by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd for the first lobbyist position in their newly-formed advocacy office in Washington, DC
- James went on to work on several election campaigns, and was one of the founders of Catholics United
- Ashley works at the Friends Committee on National Legislation as their Grasstops Advocacy Manager
- Colleen is now the NETWORK Communications Manager
- Claire was hired by the Center for American Progress to be the Outreach Manager for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative
- James went on to teach at a Jesuit high school in Texas and recently earned his Master’s Degree at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
- Katie went on to do campaign work with Battleground Texas and now does data work with her alma mater
- Bethan is a history PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge
- Mary was recently hired as the Digital Media Coordinator with the American Immigration Lawyers Association
- Casey is now Chief of Staff of The Washington Center for Equitable Growth
- Many Associates attend graduate school after working with NETWORK, particularly law school.
Other associates have gone on to work as community organizers, campus ministers, legislative assistants, at think tanks, with the State Department, and other organizations including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pax Christi, Faith in Public Life, the Catholic Worker, and many more
A national network of social justice advocates, NETWORK educates, organizes and lobbies for economic and social transformation. Founded in 1971 by Catholic sisters in the progressive spirit of Vatican II, NETWORK works to shape federal policies to be consistent with our values. We work to “Mend the Gaps” in income and wealth disparity and work to create a society and economy of inclusion.
While rooted in Catholic Social Justice, NETWORK is open to all who share our passion for justice. Staff and members are people from a variety of religious and nonreligious backgrounds. As an organization and workplace, NETWORK values work-life balance and strives to be a supportive workplace environment where staff embrace the “Sister-Spirit” of our founders by rooting our understanding in encounter, not ideology; prioritizing the well-being of others; seeing everyone as people first, not just roles; and using humor and being feisty in order to be bold and willing to do the unpopular. We value women’s leadership, and we engage in ongoing work to be a multicultural anti-racist organization.