My work in the Politics department here at Princeton took on a whole new dimension during the summer. From early June to mid-August, I worked in a congressional representative’s office in the House of Representatives. I applied for the internship for perhaps obvious reasons: I was looking to get a first-hand look at the different government institutions I’ve only really read about in textbooks and newspaper articles. And, without a shadow of a doubt, my summer experience delivered!
Before starting, I wasn’t sure what to expect either from my work in the office or my life outside it. Looking back, I don’t know that I could quickly summarize the litany of different experiences and challenges I experienced at work or on my own time as I, at times. struggled to navigate life in the city. Each day I spent interning was wildly different, and invited valuable reflection on how I can best harness the top-rate education I’m getting on campus for good.
At work, I did everything from giving tours of the Capitol to writing memoranda on various bills for the Congressman to read. Some days I spent mostly at my desk, typing away and answering phone calls, while others were spent running around the halls of the House and Senate office buildings delivering notes and messages for and from higher-ranking staffers. From the very first morning of my internship, when I was tasked with combing through a 200-page budget document, staff treated me as an integral part of the office. In-between tasks, I listened to members of Congress speak as part of the Intern Lecture Series and tried my best to explore all the different nooks and crannies of the Capitol building.
Perhaps even more valuable than the actual work experience I gained were the insights I gleaned from my conversations with coworkers and Princeton alumni as part of the Princeton in Washington program (PiW). The staffers in my office had a range of different educational and professional backgrounds, and were generous with their time in speaking to interns about life on the Hill and speaking about broader career advice. The Princeton in Washington program, which connects Princeton alumni, families and current students living in the capitol region, hosted a wide variety of educational events with high-profile alumni. The roster of alumni speakers, including sitting Senators, members of the House, and high-ranking government and private-sector officials, offered a window into a variety of different Washington career paths and ways to succeed.
I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to undertake such a life-changing experience, and even more so for the global Princeton community which offered me an incredible network of support even as I was working 200 miles away from campus. Who knows yet if I’ll be back next summer, but I love knowing that the Tiger family will follow me wherever I choose to go.