By Eitan Geller-Montague
This summer I’ve been working as a Legislative Intern for Senator Schumer in his DC office. The internship has been an incredible experience that I will look back fondly upon. Being on the Hill thrusts you into the center of the political world and as someone who loves politics, it’s an ideal place for me to be for a summer.
One component of the internship is handling constituent relations. In Schumer’s office, this mostly takes the form of answering phone calls from constituents. I’ve actually found answering calls to be more interesting than I expected. It requires you to be up to date with current events and the Senator’s positions on them. Every once in a while you’ll get an angry caller, but much of the time they are quite nice. Interns also lead tours of the Capitol for constituents, which requires us to have a strong handle on the history of Congress and how it operates today.
Interns also have the opportunity to attend hearings and work with legislative staff. Since I’m most interested in foreign policy, I’ve focused on attending Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings. One particularly exciting hearing I attended was the hearing with Secretary of State Pompeo where senators grilled him over North Korea and Russia. During the course of the hearing I’ll take notes, and after the hearing concludes I’ll write a summary memo to send to a foreign policy staffer in the office. Sometimes I’ll also write memos for staffers comprised of research I’ve conducted.
Interns are encouraged to attend events on the Hill to add to their experience. There are often receptions after work, and these are great opportunities to meet new people and learn new things. I went to one reception for West Virginia where I had the chance to talk to Senator Joe Manchin. Additionally, interns in Congress are invited to attend the Congressional Summer Intern Lecture Series, which occurs each summer. There are usually events for the series every day. I attended lectures by people such as Justice Elena Kagan and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Other exciting speakers such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also came to impart their advice to interns. Many of the speakers were once interns on the Hill themselves and talked about how formative the internship was for them.
Through the internship, I’ve gleaned a much deeper understanding of how Congress operates. As a Political Science major, I’ve had a strong introduction to Congress at Haverford through courses such as American Politics, but there is nothing like being here on the ground to absorb it in person. From watching a vote on the floor of Congress to speaking with staffers in Schumer’s office who help craft policy, the internship has offered me new insight into the world of politics. Spending a summer in DC has also been a wonderful opportunity to connect with new people and learn about all types of organizations here. For students who are interested in politics, I would highly recommend spending a summer on the Hill in DC.