Senate Internship: 06/24-07/07

Hi all! If there’s one thing this job is not, that would be predictable. Each week and each day is a surprise, constantly throwing new problems, tasks, and opportunities at you—I love it. Last week started off with a surprise: I gave my first tour. This was an opportunity for improvisation not only because I did not know until one hour before, but also because it was mistakenly scheduled right in the middle of an evacuation drill. Evidently, no one else in the scheduling process picked up on this, so the morning was completely chaotic. After leaving early from the Senate office buildings for the Capitol to avoid the drill, I had to juggle calls from three separate groups scheduled for a tour, all in different locations and basically lost now that plan A was out the window. Long story short, I handled it.

Another surprise cropped up at the end of the week when we met the Senator for the first time. Of course she says hi when she walks past our desks some mornings, but this was actual face-to-face time with her. The Senator is the best boss I’ve ever had, and one of the most impressive people I have met. She really cares, and is very friendly and smart. I don’t think I made a fool out of myself.

The briefings and hearings I have been able to attend have been incredibly exciting. Along with another intern who is interested in space and space policy, I went to several NASA briefings and hearings about the future of the space program. I had no idea about the Artemis missions coming up in the next few years, and now I can’t stop reading and talking about them. If you don’t know, the Artemis missions aim to put the first woman on the Moon in 2024 (Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo). Not only that, but the landing will take place at the south pole of the Moon, where we have relatively recently learned there is water ice. Artemis 3 will be the foundation for building an infrastructure on and around the Moon that will some day soon allow us to reach Mars, and beyond.

The administrative side of things have escalated in intensity this past week too. Due to a certain scandal, and other news developments related to immigrant detention centers and Iran, calls from constituents who disagree with the Senator have become much more venomous. Dealing with personal attacks from callers in a friendly manner can be difficult, as can sticking to talking points from the press team even when being drilled and insulted. However, I do think it is valuable work and life experience.

The projects I work on for staffers continue to be exciting and challenging, and feel significant. For example, another intern and I were tasked with writing a slew of co-sponsor recommendations for the Senator. We both were concerned to find legislation that we felt would be damaging to the environment, and counter to the Senator’s views on energy and the climate. We took our concerns to a staffer, discussed it, and ended up actually shaping the Senator’s policy.

This week, Congress was in recess due to the Fourth of July, which resulted in a fun opportunity for my co-interns and I. Through a friend of a friend of a staffer, we were set up for a tour of the Senate floor, cloakroom, and the Minority Leader’s office. Schumer’s office was beautiful, and the view from his balcony was incredible. As always, the staff assistants continue to strive to make our summer experience as valuable as possible.