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With graduation from the University of Kentucky quickly approaching, I was faced with a decision. Should I hop right into the job market, or should I take some time to investigate other things that I had aspired to do? I chose to delay the job search and instead apply for an unpaid internship in Washington D.C. with U.S. Congressman Brett Guthrie. I’m glad I did. The experience was outstanding.
Upon graduating, I received confirmation for the internship! I had to be in D.C. by May 31st to begin work. I quickly made arrangements to stay in the dorms at George Washington University, which was within walking distance of the White House and the metro.
During my first day on the job I learned the importance of wearing comfortable shoes. I had blisters on both feet by lunchtime, so I hurried home, bandaged my feet, and slipped into some comfortable walking shoes. A portion of a typical day did involve data entry, answering and making phone calls, typing letters and responses and office paperwork. On the other hand, most of my time was spent on the move, giving tours of the Capital for constituents and attending briefings and ceremonies. I soon began to appreciate how busy Congressman Guthrie was, and how long his days were. Keeping up with him and his staff was a challenge at first, but one I soon came to enjoy. Each day he had multiple meetings and yet he always made time to visit with constituents from Kentucky. Interns that worked for other Congressmen often told me that they rarely saw or spoke with their Representatives. Working with Team Guthrie, we spoke with the Congressman daily and he tried very hard to involve us in the day to day workings of government.
On my second day I was able to attend the ceremony for unveiling the Ronald Reagan statue. I wasn’t invited, but I went anyway for the chance to get in. As I was waiting in line, I glanced to my left and saw that I was standing next to Speaker Nancy Pelosi! A capital policeman let me and seven other interns inside. The ceremony was very poignant, and I couldn’t believe that I was experiencing history first hand. Nancy Reagan gave a short but sweet speech that touched everyone emotionally.
Later in the week I was able to take a tour of the Capital Dome. What an experience that was! Only people who are escorted by a Congressman or Senator have the privilege to go to the top and fortunately Congressman Guthrie escorted us that day.
Further along in my experience in D.C., I attended a briefing and was able to speak with and had my picture taken with former Vice President Dick Cheney. He spent a lot of time talking with the interns and was very down to earth and friendly.
Another briefing I attended concerned the present condition and future of the auto industry. Auto executives and Congressional leaders spoke and discussed their views on the current crisis in the industry. My father and a lot of people I know work in the auto industry, but until this briefing I really didn’t grasp the seriousness of the situation.
I learned a lot about the operation of our government during my internship, but what really impressed me was the fact that our government leaders and officials are so accessible and approachable. During my six weeks I met or saw Nanci Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Barney Frank, Ron Paul, Jim Bunning and dozens more. And I don’t think that anyone worked as hard as Congressman Guthrie. He is on the job 24/7 and his constituents come first.
This was a fulfilling and enlightening experience that I fully recommend to any interested student.