My STEP Experience: The Washington Academic Internship Program

For my STEP experience, I took part in the Glenn College’s Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP) in the fall of 2015. Through this program, I was given the opportunity to be a research intern for the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that looks and tracks the effect of money in politics on elections and public policy. Prior to this, I had little knowledge about the issue of money in politics, but knew I wanted explore a /public problem and research it.

One of the major projects that I got to work on at CRP was to help assist the full time researchers with the individual contributions database. This database contained all political contributions made since the 1980s and would be growing daily. As an intern, one of my key tasks was to go through the database and make sure many of the new and old contribution records was standardized as well as accessible.

Another major project I worked on at CRP was maintain the Revolving Door Database. Simply put, this was a database which attempted to track the flow of staff between the public and private sector. For each person entered in the database, I had to research multiple records to try to track their employment history.

https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/

However, it wasn’t simply interning at a prestigious organization which was beneficial. Living as a working professional in DC was much different from living as a student in Columbus. The adjustment, while difficult as first, definitely made me a more responsible and mature person overall. Since the cost of living in DC is much higher than the cost of living in Columbus, I would cook for myself more often. I didn’t realize until then that cooking was actually a hidden hobby of mine!

As Glenn Fellows, we were required to attend policy salons one day a week, take a class on policy from 6:30- 9:00 PM every Wednesday, and attend study tours every Friday. At first, I thought that these wouldn’t be great. However, the study tours had some amazing experiences, including a chance for me to meet Eliza Carney, the woman who coined the term “SuperPAC”. I was able to have the chance later on to discuss her suggestions for bettering our Campaign Finance system. We also got to tour NPR, see the West Wing of the White House, and go all the way to the top of the Washington Monument!

It wasn’t until I interned at the Center for Responsive Politics that I truly became passionate about the issue of money in politics, and how it is an issue that effects the entire American Political System. This passion continued once I got back to Ohio State, as it made me further research this. It was this that sparked an idea to research campaign finance reform attempts from a voter’s perspective, and see if disclosure mechanisms can truly impact our vote choice. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to experience our nation’s capital and learn more about myself!

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