The Thomas R. Wolanin Congressional Internship Program provides individuals in the first generation of their families to graduate from college with an opportunity to observe the federal policy-making process first-hand and participate.
What led you to apply for the internship?
Before I got the internship—being a first-generation student, it was always a dream to live and work in Washington, D.C., but the opportunity to do something on my bucket list—that feeling is tough to describe. It was an incredible experience. There is something to being in Washington, D.C., to go to Congress that is just amazing… It’s an exciting time to be in D.C. because of the new administration. I hope the next intern takes the opportunity to fully experience what D.C. has to offer.
What did the internship give you?
It gave me the confidence to apply for my current job: as a community response facilitator for the ACADV. I work for the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV) in all 75 counties, and it’s an enormous responsibility. When I was in D.C. and learning to research issues on a national scale, I picked up on skills I didn’t even know I was lacking. When the job came up, I instantly applied.
[In my current job] They’ve let me take the initiative to establish a legislative review committee working with state legislators in both parties to research policy issues that impact domestic violence in families. [The organization is} very trauma-informed and based on the principle of empowerment. I’m also mentoring students looking for internship opportunities, including a few law students, and giving them a different perspective on their career paths. As a first-gen student, I never expected to graduate from college, let alone have college students knocking on my door.
What advice would you give applicants?
If someone’s going to apply for the program, they should work with their current employer or TRIO program. During the application process, my supervisor helped me figure out how the internship would fit into my career plan. I’ve also been a public policy addict and loved seeing the favorable impact policy can have on everyday lives. I would say, go into it with your eyes wide open. This is not just a summer internship, but it’s a real opportunity to develop your career, and that’s priceless.