U.S. Department of Education–Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs–Summer 2017
I interned at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA). My office was the primary liaison between Congress and the Department. I regularly attended Congressional hearings and mark-ups, wrote reports, attended outside events at think tanks around DC on issues related to education policy, created and updated Congressional legislation trackers, prepared daily news briefings for our office, helped with Congressional outreach and phone reception, helped update biographies on Members of Congress, and prepared a special resource binder of research and written reports related to school vouchers, charter schools, and other alternative schooling options.
I would highly recommend interning in OLCA, or the Department of Education, for that matter. The internship program is well-established and provides educational experiences both within and beyond the Department. My supervisors, Doris Dixon and Scott Prince, were amazing. They were supportive, caring, and personally invested in my experience. Having amazing supervisors is something that really elevated the experience as a whole. The office was very inclusive of all its interns (there were four of us). They involved us and sought our input in meetings. We did substantive work and were given credit when this work was useful and high quality.
My advice to future Washington Seminar students is to simply do what Bro. Dunaway, the Washington Seminar director, says. I cannot speak more highly of the Seminar and how well it prepared me and the other BYU students for an outstanding time in Washington. Do what they tell you to do, and you’ll be more than fine. But more specifically, I recommend future interns to be quick to take initiative, demonstrate a desire to work really, really hard, and be genuinely passionate and engaged in the work. Also, don’t be afraid to build relationships. Take time to talk with your colleagues and superiors. I was surprised by how eager people were to tell me about their experiences or connect me to people they knew in order to help me on my professional path.
The most rewarding parts about my internship were the relationships I built with my supervisor and another intern in our office. The other intern became an extraordinary friend–someone I will continue to keep in touch with. My supervisor became a valuable mentor. I also walked away with confidence that I can go out and make a difference in something I care about. I learned that it’s important to be quick and intelligent, but it’s more important to work hard, be resourceful, and develop positive working relationships.
The Washington Seminar experience altogether was so fun! I spent many evenings and weekends enjoying concerts at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts, perusing art galleries, seeing notable landmarks and museums, and building friendships with the other Washington Seminar students.
Learn more about BYU’s Washington Seminar here.