National Intern Day
Holiday Recognizes and Celebrates the Future Leaders of the World
An estimated 4,000 interns currently work within the federal government. The Federal Internship Program provides students enrolled in qualifying educational institutions the opportunity to explore career paths in areas related to their academic studies and career interests.
To celebrate our federal interns on National Intern Day, we caught up with Chelsea Raff, rising senior at the University of Delaware and summer Congressional Intern in the Office of Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester to learn more about her day and experiences on Capitol Hill.
Meet Chelsea Raff, Congressional Intern in the Office of Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester
My name is Chelsea Raff, and I am a senior Political Science and English double major at the University of Delaware working as a summer Congressional intern in the Office of Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. Congresswoman Blunt Rochester is Delaware’s sole member of the House of Representatives, so I have the unique opportunity to learn about how she serves constituents across the entire state of Delaware.
The life of a Congressional intern in the House of Representatives can vary day-to-day – it depends on a number of factors. Is the House in session? What committee hearings and briefings are happening? Are there any meetings scheduled in the office? What special events are going on? A Congressional internship is what you make of it, so it’s important to me to take advantage of all that my internship has to offer. I attend meetings and events with the Congresswoman, utilize House training and intern programming, network with other staffers on the Hill, and work with the Congresswoman’s staff to help Delawareans. It’s all about saying yes to the opportunities that come your way each day.
I start my day very early at 5:30 a.m. Currently, I am living at home in Bel Air, Maryland for the summer, and I commute every weekday on the MARC train. I spend my time on the train listening to music and reading books, and I can typically get through one novel per day. I board the train around 6:50 a.m. and arrive at Union Station around 8:20. From there, I walk to the Longworth House Office Building, where the Congresswoman’s office is located. My walk takes me directly past the Capitol, and I’m still a little awestruck every time I walk by.
Once I get to Longworth, I make a stop at Dunkin for a bagel and a refresher – the best way to start any morning in my opinion – before heading up to the office and getting to work. First, I check my email for messages about bills and letters from Congress, flagging any ones I find interesting or think are important to research more. Next, I read my news alerts to make sure I am up to date on breaking news, current events, and other information. I also check my calendar so I know what events I am attending.
Between events for the day, I answer the phones and speak with constituents. I hear about their opinions on current events, their responses to legislation, and their casework needs. All phone calls are logged so they can be passed to the appropriate people in our office and so that constituents can receive timely responses. When I’m not talking to a constituent or at an event, I assist the Congresswoman’s staff on a variety of projects. This includes helping research bills that the Congresswoman may cosponsor, analyzing government reports, and reviewing and comparing critical pieces of legislation. In Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s office, interns are paired with a policy advisor to work on a specific area of policy. I am working with the Congresswoman’s Economic Policy Advisor on issues like inflation, supply chains, labor, education, and child care.
Throughout the day, I typically have at least one hearing or briefing to watch and take notes on. I have watched House and Senate committee hearings, briefings from news organizations, and webinars from the White House. I compile my notes at the end and send them over to the Congresswoman’s staff to review. I’ve learned a lot about pressing issues ranging from gun violence to supply chains to monkeypox in the hearings and briefings I’ve attended.
Another duty of my role as a Congressional intern is to attend meetings in the office with staff. Frequently, offices have meetings with constituents and organizations to speak with them about their legislative priorities. I really enjoy attending meetings because it gives me the chance to speak with constituents face-to-face, learn more about their lives and the issues that matter to them, and gain exposure to different bills that are working their way through Congress.
My day will also usually include a special event organized for Congressional interns. There are a lot of events planned weekly on Capitol Hill, and many are specifically for interns. I really enjoy attending intern lectures with Members of Congress. There are also mixers and recruitment events for careers after college. I recently attended an intern lecture by Senator Jeff Merkley and a Peace Corps recruitment event where I heard from Congressman Garamendi about his time in the Peace Corps. I love hearing directly from Members themselves about their journeys to Congress and why they are so passionate about public service.
At the end of the day, depending on whether or not the House is in session, I leave at either 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. and walk back to Union Station to board my train home. Sometimes I stay in D.C. after work for events in the city such as concerts and intern mixers, but I typically arrive home between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., and relax after a long day so I can get ready for the next one full of excitement, learning, and opportunity.
I am honored to be working in Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s office this summer, and I look forward to soaking up as much as I can throughout these last few weeks of my dream summer internship.
Read more about opportunities and resources related to the Internship Program, Recent Graduates Program, and Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
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