While interning in D.C., I’ve learned many lessons — the unspoken rules of the Metro, how to fit a dodge truck into a relatively small parking garage, and how to attempt to budget during weekend trips. While I could certainly write more than a few blog posts on all of those lessons and more, I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned while interning in a congressional office on the Hill.
- Be willing to learn. This is the first lesson for a reason. While interning on the Hill, you’ll be asked to do a variety of tasks. For example, answering phones, batching mail, running errands, and writing memos are all things you might be asked to do. Some of these tasks may be fairly simple, while others might be outside of your comfort zone or something you’re completely unfamiliar with. Whatever the task is, being willing to learn how to do it to the best of your ability will take you far in your internship. Also, you may find you’re learning skills that will be valuable for years to come.
- Make friends and build a network. Like Texas A&M University, the Capitol seems huge… until you realize how easy it is to run into people you know. While interning, get to know as many people as you can, whether they’re fellow Aggies outside of the program, other interns in your office, or just people you meet along the way. You’ll be building a professional network, and you’ll find your work week is much more enjoyable when you have friends to run into in the halls and at lunch.
- Share your passions and your interests. As said above, you’ll be asked to do a variety of tasks for your office. However, if you share with your office staff what you’re interested in they are more likely to give you tasks in your interest area. For example, you may be asked to write a memo in a policy area you’re interested in if you discuss that with your legislative aides. Or, if you’re interested in photography, you might work with your office press secretary. Either way, your office won’t know what you’re interested in if you don’t communicate that.
- Do your best always. No matter what you’re working on, do your best and give your all. Your office will take note of your hard work and may assign you bigger projects. Additionally, you’ll be building your reputation and learning skills you’ll carry with you into your future career opportunities.
These are the four main lessons that have served me while interning in a Congressman’s office. In the short month I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much and I’m looking forward to learning so much more. I hope if you’re considering or pursuing an ANRP Internship, this has been helpful. So, which lesson do you think will be most important to your success?
Office of Congressman Michael Cloud and Office of Congressman Louie Gohmert
Washington, D.C. | Summer 2021