As ASP heads into the last few weeks of internships, three students reflect on their experiences at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, the House of Representatives, and National Conference of State Legislatures.
Madi Carper, Malone University
This semester, I am interning at the National Air and Space Museum in the Education department. Currently, my main projects involve researching topics for next year’s TechQuest, an alternate reality game at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center that allows participants to do hands-on learning about Cold War reconnaissance, and helping plan an event at the museum for an organization called Creative Mornings. I also get to attend various meetings around the museum departments, write lesson plans, and explore the archives for information about various artifacts involved in TechQuest.
So far, the coolest thing I have done at my internship is participate in a brainstorming meeting for future exhibits in the museum. I was able to be included in the discussion and brainstorming activities just like the full time museum employees. Who knows, you might see one of my ideas as an exhibit one day!
My internship is such a rich experience that words cannot accurately describe it. I am able to visit iconic planes, such as the Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb used in combat over Hiroshima, Japan) and Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B (the bright red plane that Earhart is known for). My internship days are full of joy because I get to be in the best museum in the world.
This semester, I’m interning at the office of Congressman Ami Bera, from my hometown of Sacramento. During the time ramping up to our internships, so many speakers had great advice for us. One of the most important things they told us to do is simple — make sure that the staff in your office knows what you’re interested in. If it wasn’t for that advice, I would’ve missed out on one of the coolest parts of my internship so far.
Since coming to the American Studies Program, I’ve discovered an interest in international relations. Luckily, my congressman sits on the Foreign Affairs committee, so we have a staff member who is devoted to the work that the committee does. So, to follow the advice of our speakers, I told her about my interest. The next day, she asked me if I would like to come with her to a meeting of the full committee. As we sat in the staff room off to one side, she poked her head through a door, then motioned to me. “If you go through this door,” she said, “there’s a seat right there. You can have a better view than on the staff TV.” It turned out that the seat she was referring to was on the dais behind the committee. Before I knew it, my face was on C-SPAN and I was making eye contact with John Kerry.
DC is full of opportunities like that. In my time here, I’ve seen ambassadors, senators, congressmen, governors, and the Vice President. I’ve been in a senator’s house! If you take some time, make your interests known, and pay attention to what’s going on around you, you can see stuff that’ll blow your mind.
As an immigration intern at the National Conference of State Legislatures, my office window overlooks the beautiful landscape surrounding Union Station. Prior to my first day “on the job”, I was a little apprehensive–as an intern should be–with my expectations being characterized as somewhat ambiguous. Little did I know that this experience was the ideal organization for a semester-long program focused on public policy. Most internships primarily expose an intern to administrative work but not NCSL! In fact, during my first meeting with Ann Morse, the intern supervisor, her exact words were “at NCSL you’re not an intern, but you’re part of the team.” I thought she said this to be polite, but since then I have attended briefings both on the Hill and at various organizations, written memos for both briefings and conference calls, interpreted legislation to be read by state legislatures, and collated research information on current immigration issues from various non-partisan organizations. I could go on, but those tasks highlight some areas covered as an intern.
As an ASP student on the public policy track, I could not have asked for a more fitting internship program because everything I have learned in the classroom has directly translated into my duties as an intern at NCSL. To add icing on the cake, my supervisor Ann Morse is the most approachable, caring, down to earth, and genuine individual I have ever had the privilege of working for. This experience has been thoroughly enjoyable, and I would recommend it to anyone considering the public policy track!