The Early Weeks of my Summer Internship

Three weeks ago, I moved to Washington D.C for the summer and began my internship in the U.S House of Representatives. I was extremely nervous on my first day and was sure everyone in the office would know exactly what they were doing except for me. This assumption was wrong, of course, and I came to find a welcoming atmosphere, with people who had also been interns in the past and wished for my success.

In these first few weeks, I have been able to experience a multitude of different aspects of legislation and policy. I interact with constituents by reviewing their emails and writing e-letters to respond to their concerns. Additionally, I answer phone calls from constituents who voice their opinions on legislation and current events. Legislation has also been a focus of the internship. Since I am especially interested in environmental policy, I work closely with the Legislative Assistant who deals with environmental issues. I propose legislation, provide summaries of recent environmental news, and search for other offices to support the Representative’s bills. Finally, I routinely attend hearings and briefings on a variety of topics ranging from the baby formula shortage to the authority possessed by the Environmental Protection Agency. I write memos on these and report back to the assistant who oversees that topic.

These responsibilities were overwhelming at first since they seemed to require many skills and span many disciplines. However, I learned to work with those around me to prioritize tasks and complete them properly. This has been the most significant lesson I have learned in the past three weeks. When overwhelmed with work, it is always helpful to reach out to colleagues and supervisors, especially when starting a new position. When I communicated with those around me and organized my work with them, everything seemed manageable. This has been an important lesson I will take with me for the duration of my internship and beyond.

Understanding how to reach out to co-workers will help me in the future with networking, task management, and team communication. I now know that I should use my communication skills to reach out to those around me, express the status of my work, and plan my tasks with co-workers, since it is likely they are having similar challenges. The ability to communicate with others, even when it is about a concern or a conflict, is essential in both professional and personal settings. I am so eager to continue in this internship and cannot wait to learn more about legislation, research, communication, and leadership.

By Erica Albert
Erica Albert