When I reflect back on my summer this year, it still seems so unreal. To think that I walked the same halls as our nation’s leaders is exciting yet intimidating at the same time. After spending ten weeks interning for Congresswoman Robin Kelly in Washington D.C., I realized that my internship helped me grow both personally and professionally.
After just wrapping up my freshman year at NIU, I was terrified to begin my internship because I had little experience at all—I would officially be the rookie. However, once I arrived in D.C. and started experiencing the Hill, that feeling quickly went away. On Capitol Hill, age doesn’t matter. All that matters is the work you are capable of doing and the connections that you develop with professionals and fellow interns.
The kinds of tasks that I completed this summer really improved my ability to communicate verbally and in writing. I completed dozens of constituent letters, fact sheets, newsletters, and tweets—anything communication related that you can think of, I’ve probably worked on at some point. Besides written communication, I also had to answer the phones and speak to constituents about their concerns. Perhaps the most challenging task I had this summer was creating a set of briefing materials for the Congresswoman to learn about various current foreign issues such as Syria, the Trade Bills (TPP & TPA), and the Iran Deal. For this task, written communication was especially important because I needed to make sure that I could communicate the main points of these issues easily and efficiently. Needless to say, I too learned a lot about current events from creating these materials.
Lastly, the best part of my adventure this summer was being able to experience how Congress operates. I attended briefings, gave tours of the Capitol building, went to committee meetings with the Congresswoman, and even ran into the Vice President and the Speaker of the House a few times in the hallways. There’s nothing more exciting than walking down the same hall that our nation’s congressmen and women- and sometimes even our president- share! If any honors student is interested in law, government, or politics, I highly recommend an internship in Washington D.C. for a summer!
– Rachel Jacob