I interned in the office of Senator Merkley as a legislative intern. I worked on maintaining office communications with constituents through the management of mail and phones. I also had the opportunity to work on three portfolios in the office. I worked with a Legislative Aide (LA) and a Legislative Correspondent (LC) on issues in the areas of education, abortion, and healthcare. I also worked with the foreign policy team to coordinate a daily selection of news covering 8 areas of the world, which was sent out to staff. My final pairing was with the legislative director and I assisted her on various projects, some of which were confidential. I attended several briefings during my time in the Senate and prepared memos on the previously mentioned issues. I used this summer to gain professional experience and begin to decide on a future career. I’ve always been interested in government, but it’s so different to be a part of it rather than being on the outside looking in. I’m comparing it with the nonprofit work I’ve done so my experience this summer has helped to really define what advocacy in government work means to me. Throughout my time on the Hill, I have gathered writing samples and worked on enhancing my writing skills in my memos. I have also used this chance to better understand what a career path would look like for me within government and feel very lucky to have gotten guidance from the staffers in my office. I worked on developing relationships and feel that I walked away from this job with a very full network. Before this internship, I felt that a career in government was fairly unattainable; I feel the opposite now. Understanding paths that people have used to get into these careers leaves me with a much greater understanding of ways that I can enter this sphere after graduation. The confidence in making connections and working hard in this role has left me with, is so valuable to me. I was much more unsure when I entered this role, but I found amazing female mentors and worked hard to live up to their expectations. One of the best moments that I experienced was in a closing interview with one of our office’s LA’s. She said that my professionalism was evident and that she never would have guessed that this was my first office job. That meant a lot to me, as I felt very unsure when I entered the workplace. I feel much more empowered to advocate for who and what I want to now. This internship has empowered me to use my own voice more, for which I am truly grateful. The Yale Women’s Campaign School was also such an empowering experience for me, and the other girls. I was reminded of the importance of elevating not just women, but diverse voices of women. The experiences that we as women have are drastically changed by other parts of our identity, and all women deserve equity and support. I feel that it is part of my job as someone who seeks to be in these spaces to open more opportunities to women, and to ensure the equity of those spaces so that women can walk in them without feeling judged based on their appearances, tone, or other superficial things. I’ve also noticed that when I speak to women in the context of a mentoring/advice-giving moment, it feels like they’re advocating for me in a way that I just don’t feel with men. I hope to do that for other women in the workplace and beyond.
Elaina Foley, Political Science, SY ‘23