Today I sat in a briefing on Vietnamese human rights with Loretta Sanchez herself, some of her staff, members of USCIRF, and Representative Joseph Cao. Watching Loretta, you learn a lot about confidence and how far it gets you. Observing and learning about different leadership styles is one of the most interesting things about being here.
Also, you get constant exposure and access to information and research. C-SPAN is constantly on in our office. We get authorization to research policy and issues using the Library of Congress database, which is not open to the public. Briefings and hearings are constantly happening while Congress is in session.
Hierarchy of our office:
1. Representative Loretta Sanchez
2. Chief of Staff
a. Press Secretary
c. District Office staff (in our case, the staff in Garden Grove)
3. Legislative Director
4. Legislative Assistants
5. Legislative Correspondent(s)
6. Staff Assistant
As you can see, interns are at the butt of the hierarchy, but we’re important too! There are tons of interns on Capitol Hill who do the work that other staffers would otherwise be doing if we weren’t around. Since we are around doing some of the grunt work, they can focus their energy on getting back to constituents, organizing briefings, research, and sometimes YouTube. 🙂
Some cool things I’ve done so far:
- Attending briefings on interesting issues like Mexican drug cartels, border security, health care, and education
- Sorting constituent mail. It’s a reminder of the fact that citizens do care enough to attempt contacting their representative about issues that directly affect them.
- Watching the voting occur on the House floor
- Assisting in giving staff-led tours of the Capitol
- Helping our legislative assistant for Vietnamese affairs do research about ma’ peoples!
- Navigated the tunnels system that connects the office buildings to the Capitol
- Discovered an ice cream creamery, dry cleaning, bank, and post office at the tunnels level. You literally never have to leave work.
The other parts of my job include the typical clerical, administrative duties like taking phone calls, organizing papers, and running odd errands. But I enjoy the environment, and the work is interesting. This is enough to keep my motivation high for a very long time.
The people I work with are also awesome. The Team Loretta interns hung out a few times after work, and I’m glad to be sharing this experience with them. I’m going to be the only intern for most of August, so I’m sad that they’re leaving. But we have a good time when we’re all together. Getting ice cream during breaks, helping each other out with different projects, and dancing in the office when our supervisor is gone. Good times.
Good week. I met some people simply by sharing my music (playing guitar in a stairwell), ate sushi with my fellow interns, saw Harry Potter tonight with my roommate Stephanie. This weekend, I’m going to New York for a day. Hopping the Chinatown bus and sticking it out for the four-hour drive to get me some NYC. Living life!