I interned in the Office of Congressman Steve Cohen (D – TN), who has represented the 9th congressional district for 13 years and worked closely with one of the Legislative Aides and the Staff Assistant on issues related to COVID-19 relief, transportation & infrastructure, wildlife and animal welfare, and the environment. I wrote issue briefs, helped draft 499 letters, contributed to the Congressman’s website content, and researched bills and letter sign-ons for my weekly and long-term legislative assignments. As my first institutional political experience, this internship introduced me to a field that previously seemed inaccessible to those like me who are underrepresented in political positions. Working with and learning from the staff and other interns helped me gain confidence in and reinforce my political aspirations. I also gained a deeper understanding of how Congress, Congressional offices, and Committees operate within specific policy areas. For example, going in, I had very little knowledge of environmental and infrastructure issues, but shadowing the LA taught me a lot about current related legislation. This internship helped me further explore my career path as I got to contribute to various legislative assignments and hear from staff members about their career experiences. Challenging legislative projects required me to watch debates, briefings, and committee hearings attentively, research history and policy recommendations, and complete tasks by short deadlines. I developed useful customer service skills through speaking with constituents. I also strengthened my teamwork and project management skills while collaborating with the other interns. One of the best parts about my internship was a series of “intern seminars,” in which I learned about each staff member’s role in the office and career stories during virtual coffee chats. As the majority of Congressman Cohen’s staff are women, it was incredibly encouraging to hear how these women pursued their political careers and got to where they are today. I hope to follow the example they set—to boldly pursue my political ambition, support and learn from other women in the field, and encourage and mentor other girls to do the same.
Nicole Li, Economics, Political Science, SM ‘23