Nebraska Society Scholarship 2010

Hometown: Forest Lake, MN
School: Creighton University
Internship: Office of Congressman Lee Terry & Smothsonian American Art Museum

About halfway through my summer after freshman year I grew very bored of painting, which is what I had done for a summer job the past two years. I knew that I had to find something else that would be a greater learning experience and help contribute to my professional future. When I had the opportunity to intern with Lee Terry’s office in Washington I absolutely jumped at it even though I had no idea if I was interested in a career in government or politics.

My summer in Washington turned out to be one that I will never forget. I learned so much about myself, the workings of a congressional office, and a city rich with American history and culture.

Life at the office was unlike any workplace I had ever been in. I am used to pretty blue collar jobs with the exception of my work study job at school so it was a little different for me to go to work and have my own cubicle. While every day was pretty different, some of my typical tasks included sorting mail, answering phones, and giving constituent tours. I did not mind doing any of those jobs at all, but I will say that it was not the most interesting part of my job. By the way, it was interesting to hear from other interns how similar their offices were to mine. Capitol Hill has such a unique structure and it surprised me to find how everything worked. It’s not like it’s portrayed in Hollywood.

I feel like I learned the most and got the best insight into the political world when I was able to help legislative aides with research on issues and legislation. Attending briefings and lectures were also beneficial to my learning experience. When helping with research I was usually sent materials to read (or found them on my own) and then wrote outlines in bullet point form summarizing the key concepts of the topic.

I was also surprised to find how much I learned in D.C. just by being there. There’s almost no way you aren’t constantly taking in information about all sorts of things. Whether it’s attending embassy receptions or lectures given by political leaders I felt as if I was getting so much thrown at me. It was a positive feeling of being overwhelmed.

I am proud of myself for making the most of my weekends in D.C. I was able to see almost every museum and site that I had wanted to from the beginning. Being a U.S. history buff, D.C. was absolutely incredible for me to go out and learn new things about the past and be able to see a ton of history first hand. It did not take long for me to adjust to life in the big city and learn to love D.C. for all of its culture and upbeat mentality.

Bottom line is that I enjoyed every minute of my time in our nation’s capital and would do it over again in a heartbeat. I’d recommend the experience I had to any young person regardless of their future plans and ambitions. There are certain things you learn and skills you obtain in Washington, D.C. that I do not think could be found in just any other big city. I would like to thank everyone at the Nebraska Society for helping me make my experience happen and if there is anything I can help with in the future I would be glad to do whatever I can.