This summer I interned for the University of Michigan’s Federal Relations Office in Washington, D.C. The office works with government agencies and officials, especially the Michigan Congressional delegation, to respond to proposed legislation or other regulatory activity that may impact the University and its programs.
The University of Michigan is connected to and impacted by what happens in our federal government in many ways. According to Office of Research Annual Report, in fiscal year 2017, the federal government invested $832 million in U-M research. Most of this investment came through partnerships and programs with government agencies, like the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. Part of the work of the Federal Relations office is encouraging congressional support for funding for these agencies and programs. There are also many U-M faculty who serve on Federal Advisory Committees, which are essentially provisional advisory bodies that provide the government with expert analysis and recommendations on specific policy issues. For example, Professor Arthur Lupia served on the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.
Over the course of the summer, I was continually learning all of this – all the different things that the Federal Relations office works on. At the same time, I was encouraged to explore my interests outside of the office by attending events on Capitol Hill and around D.C. I attended multiple congressional hearings, including a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that featured FBI Director Chris Wray. I was able to meet all my elected representatives – Rep. Fred Upton, and Senators Stabenow and Peters. And I went to a talk with Ivanka Trump that was hosted by Axios. The advantage of working in a more laid-back office with a more flexible work schedule was that I was able to go to lots of cool events, and to pick events that were more interesting to me.