My First Week at the Capitol

capitol

I just wrapped up the whirlwind first week of my Senate externship. The pace on the Hill can be dizzying, but the countdown to Friday’s government shutdown amplified the energy to a whole new level.

I am one of two Law Clerks in the Oversight Office. Greg, a 3L at Georgetown, is also a former teacher and very interested in education equity issues. Nearly all of our projects have been shared, and I’m glad to say that we are quite the team! One of the major legislative initiatives coming down the Senate pipeline is the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which passed the House last December. The HELP Committee had its first of several hearings on the HEA this week: Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Financial Simplification and Transparency. This was my very first Senate hearing, and boy was it exciting to see the Senators in action. Each had their own style of questioning and skillfully developed testimony from the witnesses, who were leading experts in higher education policy.

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Interior of the Hart Senate Office Building

I feel incredibly lucky to be working with HELP and could not have wished for a more ideal work environment. Five staffers run the Oversight Office, which is relatively small compared to others. The culture is deeply collaborative, collegial, and professional, while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere. With any new internship, there is always the fear that interns will be regarded as gophers and copy runners, but not here. Greg and I are treated with great respect and thus far have received really interesting, substantive assignments that our bosses would themselves be doing if they simply had more hours in a day. Politics is a relationship business, so we are actively encouraged to build coffee meetings into our schedules and seek out new professional contacts. I personally look forward to connecting with people who work on criminal justice and Veterans issues.

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