I spent my summer in Washington DC as a summer intern at K-street firm, Squire Patton Boggs. I worked in public policy, supporting a corp of lobbyists and policy advisors. I attended briefings/hearings on Capital Hill and at think tanks around the city. I did policy research for clients, I assisted with logistics for firm events, and I analyzed public policy to advance our client’s legislative goals.
The biggest transformations that I went through while undertaking my STEP signature project were regarding my future plans and professionally. I imagined that I would not like Washington before I spent a good amount of time there, but I was wrong. I absolutely loved living and working in the nation’s capital. I think living with a roommate and having to be an adult 5-6 days a week helped me grow professionally and emotionally. I had to balance play and work, balance a budget, and balance ambition with self care. I also learned some things about myself in the process. I learned that I would love to work for a law firm like Squire Patton Boggs at some point in my career, I learned that Washington is a city I could see myself in, and I learned that I want to add a more international twist to my career.
In my off time this summer, I spent time with the State Department Fellow at The Institute for the Study of War, a foreign policy think tank based in DC. I think these two opportunities masterfully complemented each other as I could take what I learned about the world to my job at the firm and better serve the corp of lobbyists which i worked with. Thankfully the firm was very good at providing me with projects which aligned well with my interests. Due to this, I did a lot of work regarding the Middle East, and central Asia. I had never imagined that I would get to do such a variety of projects touching on so many of my interests. I think a lot of the American public is confused about what lobbyists really do, and the integral part they play in the policy process.
I had a lot of cool experiences this summer, at work, with co-workers, and outside of work. These experiences all meshed together to alter ever so slightly my world view, and understanding of our nation’s capital. One of the coolest experiences I had at the firm was when I took a business trip up to Philadelphia to help out with a firm event at the Democratic National Convention. I learned a lot about the business process behind a law/lobbying firm. It was so cool getting to meet celebrities, policy makers, business leaders, and public figures all at the same event. It was also interesting to see how partisanship fits into the business of influence.
SPB at the DNC
Squire Patton Boggs was also good about connecting the interns with men and women at the firm who may be able to offer professional advice, or who we may be interested in meeting or talking to. Some of those experiences which were rewarding were when I got to speak with the former Ambassador to Qatar, a country which i will be interning in with the Department of State. Another time, former United States Senator, and current chair of the Squire Patton Boggs policy arm, Senator John Breaux, took the interns to lunch. What I learned is that while there are a number of public figures and former heavy hitters in government or business at the firm, every one I worked with, young or old, was incredibly impressive. Working with motivated and intelligent people everyday made my experience at Squire Patton Boggs, that much better.
The experience of living in Washington, and rooming with kids from LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida was also valuable. I got to network with other kids like me who enjoyed similar things, and also went to large public universities. I formed friendships, I got the most out of living in the capital, and I networked constantly. We all transformed during our summers in DC because we had to be depended on constantly at work, and therefore we all took our work seriously, and didn’t take our free time for granted. Learning how to manage the challenge of other people depending on you was an important lesson that I thought I understood. But in reality, no one can really understand this responsibility completely until stuck at the office past 9 PM on a Friday, making sure the individuals I supported would be prepared to best achieve our client’s legislative goals the following Monday. This responsibility was a burden sometimes, but over all it was a challenge that I took seriously, and coveted. I enjoyed being dependable, and valued being part of the team.
This summer with Squire Patton Boggs helped me figure out my future immensely. I know that at some point in my career I would like to return to Squire Patton Boggs and resume the great work the firm does for its clients. However, in the short term it gave me perspective on how long careers can be and how I have time to change careers, even multiple times. So many of the individuals at the firm had done completely different things before getting on board at Squire. One cool note after I left the office is that, just about a week ago, Ohioan, and former United States Speaker of the House, John Boehner announced he would be joining the policy team at Squire Patton Boggs.
I am very interested in returning to public policy whether on the private or public side, but in the mean time I would love to serve my country abroad in the diplomatic corp. I think that talking with the State Department fellow at ISW, and the international policy team at Squire Patton Boggs convinced me of this awesome career path. Since then I have been lucky enough to obtain foreign service internships with the Department of State, set to intern in both Doha, Qatar, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the coming months.
I do not think I would have these upcoming opportunities without the professional advancement I went through this summer, or the career counseling I received informally during my three months in Washington. I am very grateful for the opportunity which STEP provided me, to live and work in our nation’s capital, and transform myself professionally. Go Bucks!