I used my STEP funds to go on a program called Scholars DC. This program was a two week trip to Washington DC, where for the first week we met with various different agencies as groups. The second week consisted of going on individual meetings with various different professionals in the fields that we were interested in. For the first week I went to the State Department. While there I got to witness the daily briefing. I also got to meet with Marie Harf, a spokesperson at the State Department. I also visited Senator Portman’s office and attended one of his coffees with constituents. We briefly got to meet with him and introduce ourselves. I also had a meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown. We got to speak with one of his staffers and then had a brief discussion with the Senator himself. I also got a tour of the Capitol, and even got to ride in the underground car thing. It was great. I also went on a tour of the Supreme Court. We were showed around by two of the law clerks, who informed us of just how hard of a position law clerk is to get. I believe the chances are about as good as the chances of getting struck by lightning, at least according to one of the law clerks. I also got a tour of NPR and the Washington Post. It was interesting to meet with various different journalists and editors. I also got to meet with the Tom Wheeler, who is the Chairman of the FCC. We also visited the DEA, and they provided a very interesting and informative presentation. I visited the Secret Service Headquarters and was almost denied entry because I was not on the list, thanks Kevin, and I couldn’t remember my social security number. Luckily, everything worked out in the end and it was a very interesting tour. I also talked with one of the people who worked at the House Committee on Homeland Security. Another meeting was with the Ohio State Government Affairs office, which was interesting to get to see some of the more political side of Ohio State. Then there was a meeting with former Representative Henry Bonilla, who discussed the current political climate and also his time as a lobbyist. My last meeting of the first week was with Widmeyer Communications, which is a PR firm.
The second week I met with John Wingard. We went out for coffee and he showed us around the George Mason Law School. During this visit he talked mainly about his time as an attorney for the U.S. government, and how things have changed. He also talked about the temptations of Washington DC, and he told us a delightful story about how his brother or brother-in-law got arrested for stealing money from the law firm he worked for. Mr. Wingard was very fun to talk with and answered any question we had. He really went into detail about the things he loved about working for the federal government and how he has discovered a new passion for trees during his retirement. The meeting was very informational, although he did almost kill me when he was driving us to the coffee shop.
The next meeting I had was with Jennifer Hallman. She took us out to lunch and talked about her time as a lawyer working with various agencies like the IRS and the TSA. We talked about her journey into becoming the person she is today, and how she got to be where she is now. We also talked about the struggles of balancing work and social life. She talked to us about anything we wanted to know, and was completely open and honest. This was one of my favorite visits that I had for the week. She was just great.
I had another meeting with Meghan Gannon. She is a scheduler for a Texas congressman, and she gave us a lot of good advice. We met her at her office and discussed how she got the position of scheduler, what a scheduler does and she answered any question we had. It was nice to meet with her because she was a very recent graduate of Ohio State, so she could tell us more about what job hunting looks like now in Washington DC. She was very informative and we had a nice talk.
Another meeting I had was with Jenni Scheaffer, a staffer for John McCain. We met her in her office. She talked about her non-traditional path to the career she has now. We also talked about what she does as a staffer and how she got the job. She also gave advice on what classes to take in school to help prepare. She also gave advice on some of the better study abroad experiences.
The next meeting I had was with Shannon Rogers who works in the Nuclear Regulator Commission. We met at her office and talked about various different types of law, criminal vs. civil. She also talked about what she does at the NRC and how she got to where she is. We also met with one of her bosses, and he gave us a lot of advice, especially how it is ok to not know what you’re planning on doing. Shannon Rogers also talked about more non-traditional types of law, and how most lawyers never go to court. She told us of her experience doing more investigative work, and she told us how she made grown men cry.
The last person I met with was Jeanne Mallett. She took us out to lunch, and we discussed a ton of different things. We talked about some of her experiences, and how she now writes a blog about being a DC pedestrian and how she wants to get bicycles off the sidewalks. She told
us of some of her new hobbies, and different ways that she has saved her money over the years. She was really great and nice. She was more than willing to answer any question we had for her. Also, when my roommate Lindsey completely ruined her white shirt, Jeanne stepped up and saved the day by getting her water and towel to clean up.
My time in Washington DC really made me question what I wanted to do. It really let me see other opportunities and choices that I was not even aware existed. I kind of always had an idea that I wanted to work on Capitol Hill and be a staffer for some Congressman or woman, or a Senator, but my experience in Washington DC really made me see other interests I had, like in foreign policy and more communications type of positions. Meeting with various different people in various different fields of work was very informative and helped to expand my worldview. It also made me see things differently in terms of my future, and what I will be able to do with my degree in political science. My time in Washington DC also gave me a tremendous amount of suggestions for what minor I might want to pursue. I also learned a lot more about law and law school. Many of the people I met gave great advice on what you can accomplish with a law degree and the benefits and downsides of going to law school straight away or taking a break. It also made me explore other studies of law that I never considered.
After my two weeks in Washington DC the future looks brighter than ever. I now have many other options to look at. Academically, my time in Washington DC has even influenced some of the classes I am currently and will be taking. I got a lot of recommendations from former political science Buckeyes. My experience has also made me look at law schools I never would have thought about. It has also broadened my horizons on my time schedule for school. Before I was strictly set on going to law school straight out of undergrad, but now I have been debating with the idea of taking a year off. I have also looked into going to Washington DC again, and maybe taking an internship there. What this experience has taught me is that Washington DC is for me. I loved the city, and am definitely interested in going back. My STEP experience has provided me with various ideas and interests that I never fully realized. Now I just have to narrow down the things I want to do.