- October 5, 2021One undergraduate student shares the value of her three internships. Her advice? Go for it.
Katherine Truitt, Government and International Politics major, double minors in International Security & Intelligence Analysis
Congressional Intern with Congressman Mark Meadows’ (NC 11th District) Washington, DC office
Reflections about your experience: My internship experience has exceeded my expectations. It has been so beneficial and interesting to me, that I have decided that I want to make a career out of working on Capitol Hill. It truly has been a life-changing experience for me. I actually never wanted to leave the office at the end of the day. I miss being on The Hill.
What advice would you give to a new intern? My advice for a new intern joining the team would be that if you have never done a congressional internship before (like me before this semester), buckle up. The first month will be hectic. There will be lots of new things to learn and you will make mistakes. However, it is okay and it is expected.
Once you get acclimated and get through the first month, you will continue to learn new things throughout your internship. Ask for help. Do not assume that you can figure it out on your own. Even if there is a slightest bit of uncertainty that you have about something, ask your supervisor about it. It will make your life and their life so much easier. That all being said, it is such a valuable and amazing experience! Make the most of it.
Alex Durfee, Government and International Politics major, minor in Data Analysis, concentration in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics
Interned with Lake Research Partners, a public opinion and political strategy research firm in Washington, DC
How did you find this opportunity? I discovered this internship while searching online. While I am not a member who attends weekly meetings, I do follow George Mason Democrats online and saw that their website had a list of posts from organizations seeking interns. After submitting an application, I received word in a couple of weeks and had a phone interview. Then I completed a timed assignment, successfully, given I was offered the position.
What did you do? There are usually a couple of interns working with me each day, which I am grateful for during busy days. We perform a lot of text and numbering proofing for presentations that analysts are working on. We conduct base research for analysts on issues/news pertinent to the client. We also scrutinize surveys and results from focus groups and organize insights.
Why do an internship? A great benefit is working closely with folks who are at different stages in their careers and talking with them about their experiences and aspirations. Each of my internships have had different staffs and working environments. It is refreshing to build these relationships outside of Mason, while still at Mason.
David Glietz, BS Public Administration
Pathways Intern with the US Department of State
How did you find your internship? I found my internship through USAJobs. I uploaded my resume and cover letter through the website. After a few weeks I was given a phone interview, and then was offered the position.
Tell us about your job. In Spring 2013, I was an intern in the Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Project Management Branch (EOP/OA/OCIO/PMO). The Executive Office of the President is the federal agency responsible for directly supporting the President of the United States. The Office of Administration is responsible for the general administration of the EOP with offices such as finance, general counsel, and information technology falling under its umbrella.
When I started the internship I was paired up with some of the project managers, and my primary duty was to assist them in completing project tasks. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of tasks while I was at EOP. I would take meeting minutes, draft research reports, and in my last few days I helped move my entire office into a new building. I was very fortunate to work with a lot of really great people who took an interest in me, and helped to make sure I got the most I could out of the internship. For those of you who are wondering I did get to see the President once. I was invited to a Marine One landing where I got to see President Obama board the helicopter.
What did you find most challenging about this experience? The part that was most challenging about the internship ended up becoming one of the most rewarding aspects of it. Towards the middle of my internship my manager involved me in our office’s process improvement discussions. One of the things he asked me to look at was how the office as a whole could be better utilizing some of our collaborative tools. This led to my crash course in Microsoft SharePoint development. SharePoint is a web-based tool that allows groups to build collaborative pages. Before I started tinkering with SharePoint, we were not really using the program to its full potential.
During the course of my internship I built two SharePoint pages as an attempt make processes more collaborative. The first page I built helped make a meeting run more smoothly. I was able to remove a step of project managers e-mailing their project statuses every week to one person, who then compiled the spreadsheet. The SharePoint page allowed the project managers to upload their statuses directly to the webpage. It was challenging because I had to teach myself on the fly how to design something like that in SharePoint, and there was a lot of improvisation on my part as a result. After the success of the first page, I was asked to work on developing a second page. This page was similar to the first one, but would be used as the weekly briefing for the Chief Information Officer (CIO). That page was much more complicated than the first, but I was able to deliver and present it to the CIO before I left. She was very impressed with what I had delivered, and it was a really great feeling leaving the internship on a high note.
What advice would you give internship seekers? My advice if you are looking for a federal internship is to be as detailed as possible with your resume. Federal resumes tend to be much longer than regular resumes, and that is okay. Also, make sure you are reading the job announcement carefully, and be on the lookout for specific action verbs. If you can, you should incorporate these verbs into your resume. Lastly, even if an announcement says a cover letter is optional always submit one.
If you do get an internship, always go in it with a can-do attitude. There will always be tasks we are assigned that we do not like or want to do. However, just work through them and do it with a positive attitude. Your managers will remember that, and might be more inclined to loop you in on the “fun stuff”.
David Gray, BA Government and International Politics
Intern with the Town of Luray, Public Works in Virginia
How did you find your internship? During the winter of 2013, I had discovered that my hometown municipal office was showcasing an opportunity for people interested working in the public service field. My grandfather had worked for the same office for almost thirty years, as the interim Town Manager, Assistant Town Manager, and Town Councilman. In his tenure, he made lasting relationships with his co-workers and the citizens of the town. Growing up around him, I personally witnessed the positive affects he had on many of these people. The smiles and laughs they shared while working on a pertinent solution to the problems, became an inspiration for me to do the same. Out of admiration for the capability of being able to share something intangible while fixing something tangible, I strived to walk those same halls with courage and the willingness to bring positive change. After several exchanges and few months later, the mayor offered me the position as a summer intern with the Town Office.
Tell us about your job. The primary duties in the office were somewhat unpredictable. Being in the public service sector, problems and issues can arise day to day. I worked with the Town Planner on rezoning and zoning for the community’s projects. The Town Planner also served as the chairman for the local Page County Economic Development Board. We would attend meeting with local business owners and entrepreneurs, seeking new ideas and propositions for the Town. My primary duty was switched to editing and helping sustain the upcoming Fiscal Year budget. I spent almost a single month editing, making suggestions, and working with the Treasury Department to ensure that all criteria and fabrications had been met. My final duty with the Town was working on a regional plan through social media, where I had to collect, analyze, and determine the mainstream of business output. This information would be used in a video for the Director of the Page Economic Development Department.
What did you find most rewarding about the experience? My experience has centered around public disposition. As a public servant, you will not always satisfy everyone with the choices you make, and sometimes these choices can be ridiculed by people not necessarily familiar with the subject matter. I quickly learned how to decompress a stressful situation with opposing constituents. I focused on educating them about compromise and how it would benefit the entire community. This same experience has also given me expertise in the world of financial and economic responsibility.
In what ways did working for the Town guide you in planning for a career after graduation? I plan to use my experience to further my education at the graduate level. Also, I have been offered other paying internships within the government community. I plan to take a job within the federal government, while working on my education.
Nathan Leys, Government and International Politics major, minors in International Security and Data Analysis
Interned with Senator Mark R. Warner’s office in Washington, DC
Why this internship? I knew I wanted experience working in Congress before I graduated college, so I started looking at the offices from my home state of Iowa and from Virginia. Sen. Warner’s office matched most closely with my interests, so I applied during the Spring 2015 semester and interviewed at the office in DC in August.
What did you do? I helped with many of the day-to-day logistics of running a Senate office, including conducting capital tours, handling mail, and constituent outreach. I also helped the foreign policy and national security team with analyses of defense acquisitions, the press team with media relations and outreach from the Senator’s social media accounts, and writing background and policy memos on issues from student loan reform to international climate financing.
What did you like best about the experience? Senator Warner’s staff was incredibly supportive of the interns’ political interests. I got to talk to staffers on issues I was curious about, from underground broadband expansion in rural areas to aircraft carrier acquisition timetables. There was definitely a sense that these incredibly dedicated public servants honestly wanted to mentor students and foster a community of future members of the policymaking process focused on making government work better.
Greg Mercer, BA Government & International Politics major; Legal Studies and Intelligence Analysis minors
Legislative Intern with the Association of the US Navy in Alexandria, VA
How did you find your internship? I found out about AUSN though the PIA weekly newsletter, and I had a friend who had previously worked as an intern there, so I knew a decent amount about it when I was applying.
Tell us about your job. As a Legislative Intern, I worked in all areas of AUSN’s government relations and lobbying activities. I drafted letters and website posts, attended meetings and hearings, and did research on issues. I really enjoyed these because I could see my work’s impact on AUSN’s operations.
What did you find most challenging about this experience? The biggest challenge was probably learning the details and day-to-day operations of the Navy, Congress, and the lobbying world, all very quickly. There was a lot to pick up, whether it was that a Vice Admiral has three stars on their uniform or that the Congressional office building tunnels are a giant maze.
What advice would you give internship seekers? If you’re looking for an internship, look everywhere and anywhere. Don’t just limit your search to places you know everything about. Branch out and inquire anywhere that you think is interesting, since you’re doing it to learn, after all.
Valeria Prudencio, Government and International Politics major, minor in Legal Studies
Interned with Kincheloe & Schneiderman, Attorneys at Law in Fairfax, Virginia
How did you find your internship? I found my internship through a classmate who worked for a law firm. When I asked her if her firm offered any internship opportunities, she proclaimed that she would talk with the attorney but she thought that there was no reason for them to deny me the opportunity.
Tell us about your job. I worked as a law clerk/administrative assistant, which meant that I was filing papers, answering phone calls, greeting clients, receiving and sending out mail, filing immigration applications, legal writings and drafting, and Spanish-English translation.
What did you like best about this experience? I loved that I was able to get a feel for how a law firm works, especially because my plan is to go to law school next year.
What are your plans for after graduation? My plan after graduation is to work for a year at a law firm, take the LSAT, apply to law schools, and hopefully enroll in a law school next fall.
Have you ever heard of Go Government, your one-stop shop for how to find federal government jobs? If you visit gogovernment.org, you’ll find all kinds of tips for applying for public service jobs from how to create a federal resume to demystifying the background investigation process. This useful resource is provided by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization located in Washington, DC, whose mission is to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve. Meet four George Mason students who served as Public Service Fellows at the Partnership:
- Kylie Rotton, an MPA graduate student concentrating in public and nonprofit finance, is a member of the development team managing philanthropy and fundraising efforts. Seeing this opportunity a perfect match, Kylie is eager to dedicate a summer to exploring a career in development.
The three other fellows were assigned to the education and outreach team.
- Lena Nour, majoring in Government and International Politics, drafts new content for the gogovernment webpage including information for how minority groups and persons with disabilities can secure opportunities within the federal government. Additionally, Lena evaluates the Federal Student Ambassadors programs by streamlining final reports and collaborating with federal agencies and universities nationwide. Lena will be extending her summer fellowship for the fall along with taking classes in Mason’s Global Politics Fellows program.
- Lori Lawson, also a Government and International Politics major, says one of the benefits of this experience is learning how to apply for federal positions and figuring out the best approaches for the career search. One of her projects covers evaluating applications and conducting interviews for the Federal Student Ambassadors program. This program allows former federal interns to bring their internship experience back to campus to promote public service.
- Kristina Ray is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. She runs the @gogovernment twitter feed, the Partnership’s Pinterest page, and edits career guides for universities. Elements of public relations at a nonprofit, including social media, writing, web development, and marketing strategy, has been valuable experience in helping her decide what career path she’ll take.
About the Partnership’s Public Service Fellows program:
This unique opportunity gives students a chance to gain a deeper understanding of public service as well as how private, nonprofit, and public organizations can work together to achieve common goals. Fellows work in teams and across teams to collaborate and contribute to various ongoing projects. They participate in professional development activities, plan and execute events, and gain insight for their own career search process. This summer’s twenty-one fellows, including four from Mason, are representing other universities such as GWU and University of Pennsylvania. Fellows receive stipends and can work full- or part-time for the fall, spring and summer terms. To learn more about the Partnership for Public Service, go to: ourpublicservice.org.