CAROLINE LANFORD | Washington, DC
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called on me to ask the first question after her lecture to 160 of us congressional interns, I could barely contain the gratefulness I felt for having had such an absolutely amazing summer full of so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. After thanking her for forging the way for women in the field of law, I asked Justice Ginsburg what she saw as the most difficult challenges women will face in the future and what our generation could do to further all the important progress she has already made. Her advice really spoke to me as I reflected on my professional plans:
Artificial barriers no longer exist for you, but there still are a number of problems that laws cannot solve– they can help, but they cannot be the sole solution. Perhaps most important of these is the home and work balance… I think more and more men are realizing that they’re missing something when they give up time at home with their children to focus solely on a career… I see it with my son and my son-in-law… When or if you have a husband, it is important that he knows that his work is no more important than yours… No one has it all all at once. People look back and say, “Oh, you’ve had it all!” and I have, but I never had it all all at once. It is important to live a balanced life.
I felt that the advice she gave me (and my fellow interns) really was the perfect summation, both professionally and personally, to an amazing summer.
In this last half of my time at the House Committee on Homeland Security, I have gotten to work on a few bigger projects. These three have been my favorite:
- Going on the House floor with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D- LA 2) as he argued in favor of five bills from our committee that were all eventually passed.
- Drafting statements for Rep. Yvette Clarke (D- NY 9) to read during passage of six science and technology bills. You can see/hear Rep. Clarke’s floor statements here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4506155
- Helping research and draft the fact sheet, section-by-section analysis, and op-ed for a bill that was finally introduced with a senate companion the week before August recess. You can learn about the CORRECT Act here.
From these projects I think I’ve gained a lot of practical knowledge on how to digest and gather information and then present it in a way that’s concise, informative, and convincing. I also learned a lot of very technical information about the
Department of Homeland Security and how it and Congress operate that might not be as immediately applicable to my university studies. But I truly believe that everything I’ve learned this summer will be useful as I continue to study politics and eventually work in the political field. I wasn’t sure if I would want to work on the Hill after I graduated, but now I can easily see myself working with the committee again next summer.
For those interested in getting a taste of the Hill environment, I highly encourage you to reach out to your local Representatives and Senators. Each office takes about 5 to 10 interns every summer, and, if a member of your state’s congressional delegation is chair or ranking member of a committee, committee staffs take interns every season as well. As most things in DC go, it helps if you know someone (or someone who knows someone) in the office so that your email doesn’t get lost in the heaps of communication those offices get every second. But asking around and being proactive is always a good strategy no matter what field you’re interested in.
There’s really nothing like being a part of the very process that I’ve been studying for so many years of my life now. I am so grateful for this experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in government, politics, or policy. I will be back in Nola soon, but, until then, I’ll just keep power walking. 🙂