Internship applications for Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for Summer 2012 are due January 25, 2013. This is a unique and empowering opportunity for Latino students looking to get involved in politics, public service, and leadership.
As I walked off the plane at the Reagan National Airport there was a different feeling in the air. It is that same feeling that you get when you travel or move to a new place to start that next adventure and here I was in our nation’s capitol ready for that next great adventure. I immediately fell in love with the city! All I can say is I love it! This opportunity has been amazing!
Living in Virginia and working on the Hill as an intern for Congressman Mike Simpson in Washington D.C. has brought me a new love and appreciation for the United States of America and for our founding fathers. It is amazing to think back through history and know that I am standing in the same spot as some of these amazing women and men. Every day I see the Washington memorial, I am able to explore the Capitol and during a run I ran past the White House! The opportunities to learn and grow seem endless with the many museums and events that are constantly going on. I also have the opportunity to network with people that are doing incredible things. The other night I was at a Congressional reception with around 40 people and I just happened to be standing next to Speaker of the House, John Boehner and he just happened to say hi to me.
One event that I will probably never forget is the day that Aung San Suu Kyi; Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist for democracy and human rights in Burma was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. This medal is the highest award that Congress can give to someone. The ceremony took place inside the Capitol Rotunda and leaders such as; Harry Reid, Hilary Clinton, John McCain, Laura Bush, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi spoke before Aung San Suu Kyi delivered her eloquent speech and accepted her award.
During this internship I have been able to deepen my passion for education; especially higher education by attending hearings and briefings from this committee. Going to these types of things gave me the chance to talk with leaders in that field as well as find opportunities here in D.C. where I can volunteer to gain additional experience. There is so much that one can gain from an internship it can be so much more than just answering phones.
landed in this city just one month prior, I am amazed at the whirlwind of
activity that has taken place. I just got back from a weekend trip to NYC and I
am back at my desk researching different arguments regarding current welfare
policy. My internship in DC is proving to be an adventure that is elevating my
opportunities as well as my vision for what I can do with my post USU life.
of my favorite moments came shortly after the Senate returned from its August
recess. My fellow intern and I went over to listen to Senator Hatch give a
speech on the Senate floor. While we made our way back to the office we wound
up waiting for the next subway with Senator Hatch himself. We introduced
ourselves and proceeded to discuss the topic of his speech during the ride. The
Senator then asked me which school I had attended and after I mentioned I was
an Aggie, the conversation switched to an in depth discussion of the great USU
vs. Utah game as well as a discussion of the upcoming USU football season. Who
knew that Senator Hatch was such an Aggie fan?
recent memories have come from being sent around the Capitol to attend
briefings on tax reform, helping to prepare for the upcoming inauguration,
researching and crafting potential strategy, as well as standing in for
committee staffers when they can’t attend a press event or participate in a teleconference
call. It’s not uncommon for me to lean over to my coworker and discuss
how awesome our experience in the committee is.
leads me to my next point; I am not alone in this experience. Besides rubbing
shoulders with Senators and other top policy advisers, I have also been able to
greatly expand my personal network. I am surrounded by amazing interns from
across the US who add to the quality of my experience by sharing their ideas
and introducing me to even more people.
I am not completely sure where my internship in
DC is going to take me, but if the previous month is any indicator then I know
that whatever it is will be exciting and more than I would have ever imagined
as I sat in Old Main contemplating life after graduation
My first day on Capitol Hill
was a star-studded event. I wasn't expecting too much for the day- I arrived
and learned how to sort the mail, use the phones, etc. Beyond that, without a
computer account or a security badge, there wasn't much I could do. The Capitol
was mainly shut down for an event, but a fellow USU intern from another office
and I decided that we would try and see if we could get in to the ceremony.
Temporary security badge in hand, Erika and I set off to the Capitol using the
underground tunnel and subway system. Congress was awarding Aung San Suu Kyi
with the Congressional Gold Medal- the highest medal of honor Congress can
bestow upon a civilian. Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the world's most prominent
former political prisoners, and now serves as the opposition leader in the
Burmese Government. This trip was her first to the United States, and her medal
ceremony was being held in the grand Rotunda of the Capitol Building.
We were turned away initially, told that we needed tickets to enter. We found
an abandoned looking stairwell and decided to explore... and popped out in one
of the antechamber entrances to the Rotunda. After nervously peering around to
see if any angry security guards were en route to tackle us to the ground (and
seeing none) we decided to stay just so we could listen, occasionally gathering
up the courage to move a few steps closer. After about 5 minutes, a kindly old
guide (we call them "the redcoats" because they wear very vibrantly
red blazers) asked if we were interns. When we nodded yes, he motioned us over
to his spot so we could catch a glimpse into the Rotunda.
I was practically dazed by the star power in the room in front of me. Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Senator John McCain, Former First
Lady Laura Bush, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi... Politically, I don't even like half these people, but I was still in
awe. They all spoke, and it was incredible.
This isn't a typical day working on the Hill. It can be slow, especially when
Congress has recessed during election season. There are lots of more mundane
days, answering phone calls, sorting mail and faxes, running errands, managing
constituency case work and giving Capitol tours. However, this shows some a
degree of the possibility that you always seem to feel working at the
Capitol. It seems like almost anything can happen, and something almost always
is. There are briefings on pertinent and fascinating topics- often accompanied
by free food. Different groups come and give day long information fairs- again,
also often accompanied by free food. Our office always has the news (or a
Nationals baseball game) playing in the background. You can have lunch in a
gazebo next to a fountain in the Botanical Gardens. Capitol Hill can make you
feel like you have a pretty charmed life.
There is no place like Logan in the fall. The view from the
top of Old Main Hill is unbeatable. The Aggie pride as thousands of students
flood back to Logan to celebrate homecoming is almost tangible. From football
games to bonfires, there is always something exciting going on. So it’s
understandable that I was a little reluctant to leave my friends and move
across the country for four months to intern in Washington, DC. Now that I’m
here, I know it’s the greatest thing I could’ve done to add to my college
First off, living in DC is incredible. Every morning on my
commute to Capitol Hill, the metro comes above ground to cross the Potomac
River, giving me a clear view of the world-recognized Washington monument. My
work is within a few blocks of the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, the
Supreme Court, and multiple other historic buildings. Taking lunch breaks on
the grass outside the Capitol never gets old.
While at work in Congressman Rob Bishop’s office, my duties
range from answering telephones, responding to constituent mail, assisting the
legislative assistants, and giving tours of the U.S. Capitol building. The
hands-on experience I have gained from doing an internship has taught me more
about the legislative process that I ever could’ve gained from simply reading
textbooks. It’s an incredible feeling to know I’m walking the same halls as the
Founding Fathers, rubbing shoulders with Members of Congress, and even meeting
celebrities who come to the Capitol to lobby for certain issues. Last month, I
met Shaquille O'Neal! Next week, Jennifer Garner is coming.
Aggie pride doesn’t end in Logan; it’s as strong as ever
here in D.C. Utah State University owns a few apartments in Arlington, so I am
able to live with fellow Aggies. The majority of the staff in my office graduated
from USU, so we even have an occasional “Aggie apparel” day. Most importantly, my
roommates and I have found a group of recent Aggie graduates who meet to watch
the USU football games together (followed by True Aggie Nights).
I would encourage any student to do an internship in
Washington DC. An internship is the perfect way to take your career path for a
test drive. I have discovered new interests, learned new skills, and made
connections with people that will have an enormous effect on my future career
Count April 8, 2012 as one of the most excitable days of my life. If taking care of pictures with my darling fiancee (at the time) for our wedding announcement wasn’t enough, the heart-thumping occasion was only heightened through a voicemail from a staffer for Utah Rep. Rob Bishop.
“Hello, Rhett, I wanted to let you know that we’d like to have you in our D.C. office this summer. I’ll look forward to hearing back from you. Thanks.”
Twenty-nine words that have definitely helped my life for the better. Don’t know if you can limit the value of a college intern from the Rockies getting the chance to gain experience in the nation’s capital. Between embraces with my spouse, I looked over my right shoulder even to see the photographer excited for us (much more, I would add, than he was when I randomly came across him at a traffic school months earlier in Salt Lake. Certainly didn’t care to mention that I had come across him before).
So out we flew to Washington on a red-eye the morning of May 14. If not for the sirens that routinely woke up Allee and I many mornings (you might say we lived in one of the lower-income branches of D.C.), I may have just missed the first couple of hours of the work day, especially in that first week.
Politics can wear you down—especially in a Congress as deadlocked as this one!
I have to admit it: with journalism as one of my degrees—and after experiences with the Utah Statesman, Deseret News, Standard-Examiner and Aggie BluePrint—there was a bit of a mental shift to communicate in a way that reflects the voice of the Congressman I worked for, rather than a story that comes from my own intonation.
Frankly, the first couple of weeks consisted of a few what-was-I-thinkings. With just one (not so) actual public relations position on the resume, I found it quite different to be exercising such work on Capitol Hill—quite literally the beacon of the capital of the leader of the Free World.
But, as most do—especially many in a lot more dire circumstances than this too-spoiled kid—I adjusted. By August, my boss, I’m sure, didn’t need to scratch his head quite as much as he did in May.
In the meantime, many things impressed upon my mind that I immediately considered I didn’t deserve. A pass to go basically anywhere I wanted in the Capitol? Cool. A can’t-get-much-closer look at the Obamacare Supreme Court decision? Why not. A visit to House Speaker John Boehner’s reception room, where he entertains the likes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? I mean, if you’re going to scrape off the gums of my teeth with a spoon…
Fortunately, my boss wasn’t nearly so mean. Surely, his behavior reflected that of a conscious conservative. Given the dozen action-packed weeks, hopefully I apply the same principles now that I’ve left a place with a culture just as strong as the one I’m accustomed to.
I suppose this week was full of fun and interesting things. Mainly revolving around work and studying, but last night I had an especially fun time at the Nationals/Marlins game. Talk about a close game! The score was 6 - 4, Nationals down, at the end of the top of the 8th, then in the bottom of the 8th the Nationals rallied and scored 6 points! With two homeruns! What a day! That pitcher must have been super depressed, needless to say, he was relieved after they got up to 6 points... They didn't want him pitching any more. Otherwise, this week was pretty much dedicated to work. It was a killer week to head out on though. A lot of the projects I had been working on came through and wrapped up, not the least of which was the arrival and installment of Mr. Lee's freezer in his gorgeous basement. I was also able to head up to Capitol Hill and meet with some people with my boss for work, an experience you don't really get everyday. Thursday Nick took me out for lunch to the Cheesecake factory, and Mr. Lee took me out to dinner at PF Chang's. I felt like a glutton, but a happy, very well fed glutton at that. Then on Friday we had a little celebration. I had written cards to Mr. Lee and Nick, but for some reason Nick's card was exchanged for one that changed my words from thank you very much to, this was the worst experience of my life :) Oh, how I love Mr. Lee and his antics ;) All in all, it was a great week to end on. I got a 165 on my practice LSAT yesterday. Bumping up my average to well above any others that I have had so far. Truly I have been so grateful to Mr. Lee and Mr. Crockett, for their friendship, their mentorship, and adopting me into family--whether they like it or not ;) They really have changed my life, for good.