by Jane Scarborough
Every now and then I think back to how my life was a year ago, and it makes me smile. Man, I had no idea what was coming! Last fall, life was consumed by COVID-19 restrictions, online school, and basically no college football. I spent my days staring at a computer in my sorority house, or sporadically in my real house if I was exposed to COVID-19, unsure of what the next year would hold. Little did I know I would spend the following summer in my favorite city, doing one of the most incredible and exciting jobs I could have ever imagined.
After applying to numerous internships and talking with an endless amount of people, I concluded that I would once again be at home for the summer. Most internships were remote (and unpaid) and many of the older (and wiser) people I had spoken with had advised me that Washington would not be open for interns by the summertime. Discouraged but unwilling to quit, I continued to search, and this past March I happily accepted an internship with Congressman Jody Hice’s office. The countdown began and before I knew it, I was on a twelve-hour car ride to Washington, D.C., my home for the summer. From the end of May until the beginning of August, I had the honor and ability to serve my state and country and had the most fun while doing it.
Each morning, I woke up, listened to Politico Playbook and Axios Today, and put on business professional clothes. Out of a desire to get my steps in and take in the beauty of the Capitol Hill, I walked to work, passing families on bikes, men reading the paper on their front porch, runners, and countless dog walkers on the move. A brief stop at my favorite coffee shop Wine & Butter, followed by a mile and a half walk, and I spotted the top of the Jeffersonian Library of Congress and the United States Capitol above the rooftops of the rowhouses. After security, I rode the elevator with various staff, interns, and sometimes members of Congress, to the fourth floor of the Cannon House Office Building. Now, it was time to get to work.
Each day was similar, but slightly different. I learned how to gather newsclips about the Congressman, to be sent to his staff to keep them well informed. I made sure to keep up with the news, as constituents would call in and it would be my job to assist them. I completed legislative projects and research assignments, worked on press releases, talkers, and weekly newsletters, and drafted constituent mail. Managing the front office was also my responsibility, which included welcoming guests for meetings with the Congressman, or swapping snacks with different offices. The staff was friendly, professional, and talented, excelling at their jobs, always prepared, and wanted me to learn and succeed at my job. They assigned me projects I was interested in or invited me to attend or watch committee hearings and were always there to help me navigate the waters. From the chief of staff down to the interns, the staff numbered fourteen, consisting of a two-person communications team, three who focused on legislation, the scheduler, staff assistant, three interns, the chief, and three dogs. Oh yeah, we had dogs. The office was not complete without Rocco, a bulldog, Lilly, a mini goldendoodle, and Freya, a cocker spaniel. Professional office? Absolutely. I could not be more thankful for these people (and dogs) because they made my time in D.C. better than I could have possibly imagined.
Sometimes I think back to this past summer, and it blows my mind at the things I was able to do! Due to COVID-19 restrictions, no one was allowed inside the Capitol or office buildings without an ID. This allowed me to go to the rotunda before work to read a book, just me, my book, and the rotunda with murals of our nation’s history. Other times, I would take the subway from the Capitol to the Senate Office Buildings to grab coffee, brushing shoulders with Senator Elizabeth Warren as she was swarmed by the press. Or maybe that time when I got distracted on my run to the Lincoln Memorial because I saw Senator Bernie Sanders and just had to take a selfie with him! Could life get cooler? I truly do not think so.
Throughout this whole crazy experience, I had professors in SPIA helping me to make connections and get internship credit. Dr. Haynes sent me the names of various UGA graduates, and I was able to meet and gain insight from them! I would not have had the courage nor the ability to be in D.C. this past summer without the help of SPIA and my wonderful professors, and I am so grateful.
To wrap up, I thought I would simply write what I posted on my Instagram. I feel like it perfectly describes how I felt after I left my favorite city. “What. A. Summer. I’ve been trying to think of how to describe this crazy adventure. Whenever anyone asks me my favorite thing about DC, I can never decide… The people? The city? The work? I left this morning with a happy heart and a phone full of selfies with the monuments. I can’t wait to go back, but until then, I’ll see you next time DC!”