This past summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Congressional Internship Program at the District Office of Congresswoman Joyce Beatty through the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program. I was able to discover the interrelatedness of law, media, education, and politics and learn more about the inter-workings of public service in the Columbus community.
Each day, I retrieved the mail and entered it into an electronic system called FireSide. Here, we would log constituent mail and categorize it in order to send it to the appropriate staff member in Washington D.C. so they could provide each citizen with a personalized and detailed response. In addition, I would answer the telephone and either have a conversation with a community member about the issue which they were calling, or forward their call to the appropriate staff member. Occasionally I would look into the specific issue they were calling about in order to provide them with a response. For example, constituents frequently called about current events (i.e. a House Bill that recently passed), and request more information, as they wished to know how they or their community would be impacted. Toward the end of my internship, I was given the opportunity to write Proclamations for upcoming events, attend staff meetings, and assist other staff members with casework.
Prior to the project, my interests included civil and human rights, the courts, crime and criminality, and education. All such factors impact our diverse global society. I anticipated the Congressional Internship Program would foster my learning and development, enhance my educational experience and academic curricula, prepare me for my chosen profession, and fashion me into a contributing member of society.
Throughout the project, my interests waivered little. Approximately halfway through the program, my interest in education grew. However, I think part of this had to do with a recent child-centered experience. Therefore, I began looking into a duel degree in Early Childhood Education. But, the program soon made me realize that I did not want to sit at a desk in a cubicle for eight hours a day. The tasks I was assigned seemed to become monotonous, and I felt as if I was reliving the same day over again. This allowed me to realize that pursuing a career in teaching – aside from the fact that at this point in my academic career it was seemingly unrealistic – may also lead to a monotonous career.
I am still interested in civil and human rights, the courts, and crime and criminality. When I had the opportunity to assist with casework, I worked closely with a Veterans liaison. (To note: he was pursuing a Masters in Criminology and was a former member of the military.) In Veterans cases, for example, a member of the armed services was interested in utilizing their G.I. Bill in order to complete their education but was unsure how; we provided aid. Due to this work experience and the relationship I developed, I decided to pursue an additional minor in Military Intelligence, thus enhancing my educational experience and academic curricula.
This program also allowed me to expand my professional network, deepen my understanding of policy issues and interact with constituents in the region. I gained my own perspective on the role of the federal government in the criminal justice system, media, and education.
This program presented me with the opportunity for career advice and professional development while allowing me to solidify both my academic and professional goals. In addition, this experience allowed me to expand upon and gain workplace skills including but not limited to professional courtesy, self-motivation, enthusiasm, flexibility, and computer literacy.
I began correspondence with members of the district office in January 2017. These individuals, as well as other internship supervisors, have and will continue to serve as impactful personal and professional mentors who will assist in connecting me with opportunities in my professional field of interest. Ultimately, these individuals have allowed me to expand my professional network, facilitating in job placement after graduation.
Through this internship, I was provided with a hands-on educational work experience. This internship was unpaid – nor were other benefits provided – but the fortuity to learn more about myself and my strengths and talents more than compensated for this.