This past week, I started my internship at the United States Senate to intern for freshman Senator Tammy Duckworth. I wanted to intern for Senator Duckworth because she is from my home state of Illinois, and she has overcome many obstacles in her life to get where she is today. She is a veteran, partly disabled, and a woman of color. I extremely admire Senator Duckworth. The best part of my first week was getting to meet her!
My office has a large internship program composed of about eighteen interns for this summer. I am currently the only student from the University of Michigan. Most interns are legislative interns, however, a few are designated to work in the specialty areas of communications and scheduling. I had previously interned in the House of Representatives as a legislative intern, thus I wanted to try something new and become a scheduling intern during my time in the Senate. For this job, I help coordinate the Senator’s schedule and assist with the general operations of the office.
I have started to learn more about the office structure and the importance of the scheduling and operations team. Compared to my internship in the House of Representatives, my Senate office has a much larger staff, and there are many more constituent requests due to the Senator representing an entire state instead of a Congressional district. The Senator has a very busy schedule between voting, debating, committee hearings, and meeting with constituents and outside groups. The scheduling and operations team must make sure that all of these components of a Senator’s day are in sink so that she can use her time most wisely to answer to constituent concerns and promote policy initiatives.
My favorite part of this week was having the opportunity to attend a special round table event led by Senator Duckworth. The round table was focused on environmental justice with a special emphasis on cases of lead poisoning from water and corrosion. The round table featured four other Senators: Debbie Stabenow (MI), Cory Booker (NJ), Tom Carper (DE), and Ben Cardin (MD), along with five experts on the topic. I found this round table to be extremely interesting because I have done previous research on environmental justice, and the issue in Flint was very relevant as a student at the University of Michigan. Overall, it was a great first week!