Capitol Hill Internship—STEP Reflection

Capitol Hill Internship

Sabrina Virani


During this past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to work on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator Portman and his office. This internship was beyond anything I could’ve asked for, and the skills, experiences, and connections I gained throughout my time there are invaluable to my future. As an intern for the Senator, my daily tasks included answering phone calls from constituents, responding to constituent mail, and conducting tours of the Capitol for important visitors, as well as attending senate hearings on behalf of the staffers, writing up briefings and at times creating presentations on what was discussed during the hearing, and even helping staffers with current legislation work and research for an upcoming bill.


My time on the Hill changed me in so many ways that I had never expected when I was applying for the position. Prior to this internship, I had never lived completely on my own, never had to figure out my own commute to work via public transportation on my own, never had a real job where I had to dress professionally before, and in all honesty, never expected to survive a whole summer working at our nation’s capital. I remember the first issue that arose for me was housing and at that point I realized it was going to be an uphill battle getting adjusted to the new life. I cried to my parents over how I’m somehow expected to find housing on my own, and they told me that I would figure it out. I remember they couldn’t book a flight to drop me off and that I was going to have to move in by myself in this foreign city. I remember no one was going to be around to teach me how to use the metro and I was so scared I would get lost and end up on the other side of the city. I remember worrying about if my fellow interns would like me at work so the 8-hour days would be bearable.


Well as I passed one barrier after another and learned to become more independent, my confidence in my self built up more and more. I reached out to a ton of different resources and found roommates and an apartment on my own, I found a sorority sister who was able to pick me up from the airport and drop me off, I spent the day underground by myself figuring out the metro and basically discovered the entire city in one day, and lastly I made amazing friends and connections with my interns throughout my time on the Hill. All this made me realize how independent I can be and how much I had grown by having to be thrown into such an unknown situation. I am so proud of my ability to be on my own and figure everything out successfully without anyone’s help. I feel like prior to this internship, I was pretty reckless and expected people to just figure everything out for me, but after this experience I feel so adult like and ready to enter the work force.


I remember a time when I was on the Hill I met an amazing man who I will never forget. I met him through one of my roommates and found out that we worked as a legal aid for Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch. When I told him I was interning at the Capitol, he was happy to meet with me so I could pick his brains and talk to him about his career. During our coffee meeting, he told me everything he had done in his life, including attending UChicago Law, working as a trial attorney representing clients like Kellogg, working under two different administrations, being a law professor at Georgetown law, and so much more, and I could not believe I was in the presence of someone so great. Immediately feeling under qualified to even talk to him, I didn’t want to waste his time talking about myself, but he was so interested in me and wanted to hear my entire game plan and all my goals for the future. He also would tell me when one of my plans was “stupid” and “pointless” which I really appreciated and helped me with accepting criticism and would give me solid advice that was sometimes hard to hear. This guy could’ve easily met quickly, but instead he spent over 2 hours with me. He is now someone I reach out to as my mentor constantly and has pushed me to question what I see myself doing, why I want to do what I want, and really motivated me to think about my future. Not to mention this connection got me the opportunity to meet with three U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and get private tours of the Court. Overall just this interaction is something I will cherish forever. Not many people have someone this successful and helpful and ready to push you, like this amazing human being, and if nothing else came out of this internship, at least I made a connection that will last a lifetime.


This is just one of the major networks I built and I just had to go deep into detail with due to the massive benefits it produced for me. This made me feel like I was finally making real connections that would help me in the real world and I was actually becoming a young professional. Along with this network, there were many other key events and experiences that transformed me along the way. I met with CEO’s of companies based in Ohio, and got their business card just because I gave them a tour and they enjoyed me so much. This made me more motivated to reach higher and higher and become more successful like them as well as learn about all the new and exciting opportunities out their waiting for me. I would speak with constituents on a daily basis and hear their concerns, which transformed me into a more compassionate and patient person who wants to hear all sides of the story when legislating a bill that will affect everyone. Working alongside legislative staffers on current bills and hearing about valuable information before the general public would find out, made me realized that I actually do want to work on the Hill and in politics so I could stay in the loop constantly. And honestly just walking to work everyday all dressed up to the Capitol and seeing myself as a successful young professional woman, made me see that I want to work in this industry in the future.


After this internship I see myself as a strong independent woman who can take on any adversity and flip it to benefit myself and make me so much more resilient. I ended this internship with a plethora of good memories, valuable connections and networks, and irreplaceable experiences, all of which was my own doing. I am confident in my ability to start completely over in a new city on my own and make it my home within a short time span. I know many expect the actual internship to be the transformational experience that STEP was intended for, however my time on my own in a new place, a new job, and with new people, is really what I am proud of. After college I see myself moving somewhere in the East Coast and while others may be scared to tread new waters, I am ready to take on new uncharted territories to expand my experiences in the future.

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