This summer, I had the extraordinary opportunity to serve as the legislative intern for my home senator Chuck Grassley during the May term of congress. This would traditionally be an internship that would extend half of the summer, but due to COVID-19, it was considerably shortened (3 weeks in total). Nevertheless, it was a life-changing experience that gave me a window into possible future career opportunities.
Not only was this my first internship, but it was also my first time traveling by myself and my first time on the east coast. Though this may seem quite daunting, it was something that I was more than ready to do. In the past year, due to the pandemic, I had two study abroad trips canceled (one to Scotland and one to Nicaragua). So, needless to say, I was itching to do some traveling.
Before further detailing my experience, however, I must mention the contributions and help given to me by SigEp brother Jared Riter and Professor of Political Science at UNI, Chris Latimer. Both men were instrumental in providing me with valuable insight, encouragement, and help during the application and interview process. I am indebted to both these men for the role they played.
I cannot go into too many details about my experience due to the confidentiality of working in a rather powerful congressional office; however, with what I can share, I will. I would like to start by talking about the people of Senator Grassley’s office. Primarily a team of mid-westerners, this office brought ‘Iowa nice’ to our nation’s capital. Though I don’t identify with the same party as the senator, I never once felt outcasted because of it. As Grassley’s chief of staff told me on my first day, the internship opportunity is available so that men and women from across the country of different political and social backgrounds could have the opportunity to experience the interworkings of our government.
I made some great friends in the office, even going so far as to grab lunch with the staff members every day, sometimes frequenting a local hole-in-the-wall restaurant a few blocks away. I made many valuable and insightful connections with the staffers of Grassley’s office and other congressional offices.
My daily duties were quite diverse in nature. I would do everything from sorting and responding to consistent mail to writing briefs, delivering mail (sometimes even handwritten letters between members of Congress), running errands, attending committee hearings, and introducing legislation to the cloakroom in the Capitol Building. I even met Senator Grassley and other Senators during my time in the capitol.
Though I had many realizations about my time on capitol hill, what was most impactful was thinking; though the country seems more divided than ever in the media, everything is actually cordial and respectful on capitol hill. It was honestly a breath of fresh air to know that our government is not how the media portrays it.
All in all, it was an incredible experience that grew me professionally, matured me as a man, and has prepared me to enter to ‘real world’ with this invaluable and unique opportunity. It was a trip of hard work, lots of fun, friends, great food, exploring, and fulfilling moments that I will never forget.