Political Science - Public Service
- Interned at: Office of Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui
- Participated: Winter 2020
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elise-borth/
Tell us about your internship – what kind of work did you do? What did you find rewarding?
Though internships with a Congressperson vary widely from office to office, my office kept the interns busy. When we weren't corresponding with constituents, compiling news clips for the Congresswoman, or scheduling tours, we were often assigned tasks from staffers for upcoming meetings, hearings, or legislative work. We often compiled contact lists and biographies, and sometimes participated directly in the research that went into a bill. By far my favorite task was delivering cosponsor forms to the cloakroom, as it was right next to the House floor; I was always bound to pass by several Congresspeople en route.
Have your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how?
Yes! Before working in D.C., I was planning to go to law school following graduation -- but then I fell in love with the bustling, fast-paced atmosphere of the Hill. I now plan to move to D.C. and work on the Hill for a few years immediately following graduation. Eventually, I hope to become a scheduler for a Congressperson.
Share an exciting memory from your internship – something unexpected, an accomplishment, someone you met.
It's definitely a tie between two memories for me. I attended a briefing on several pieces of legislation restricting gay conversion therapy, (a barbaric practice that unfortunately still exists in 2020) and showed the proposed bills to the staffer handling LGBTQ issues in our office. Not more than a few hours later, he emailed me to say that the Congresswoman had signed on to cosponsor one of the bills. Though there were several degrees of separation, I was proud to be the one who brought the legislation to her attention. On a more silly note, my office delivered mass quantities of cookies for Valentine's Day, which gave me the opportunity to meet many other Congresspeople -- most notably Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, who sent me back to the office with a hefty serving of chips and salsa as a thank-you.
Did your internship lead to any opportunities?
After meeting with the scheduler in my own office and telling her about my career goals, she was able to connect me to another scheduler on the Senate side, who heads a mentorship program for aspiring Congressional schedulers. I hope to keep these connections and expand them when I move back to Washington.
Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc.
I was able to attend an oral argument session at the Supreme Court, where I saw my biggest idol (Justice Sonia Sotomayor) in person. Being in the Courtroom and actually seeing all of the Justices speak was amazing -- it was nothing like what I had expected. If you are able to brave the cold for a few hours, I highly recommend trying to get in for an argument!
How has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you?
My independence and confidence have both grown immensely during my quarter in D.C. I'm on the younger side of UCDC participants, and haven't had much experience on my own in a city. I feel like a completely different person now than I was going into the program in January. I am so much more sure of myself and my career decisions, and have also gained invaluable networking and organizational skills. My work ethic has improved, and I am no longer dreading my inevitable graduation and transition into working full time -- in fact, I'm looking forward to it. I fell in love with Washington, D.C., and will do everything I can to return to the Hill.
Do you have any advice for future UCDC students?
Every opportunity you receive, take! If you're on the Hill, go to as many briefings and hearings as you can. Explore the city -- I went out every weekend and still feel like I didn't see everything. D.C. has SO much history, and most sites cost little to no money to visit.