This spring, I had the opportunity to work as an intern in the office of Iowa senator, Chuck Grassley. Due to Covid, I was the only intern (as opposed to the normal eight to ten), so I worked on a variety of projects and had a broad range of daily tasks. Going into the internship, I didn’t know I would be the only intern, but I quickly learned that it would be a special semester. Although I am a Champaign County Illinois native, Iowa has grown to occupy a large piece of my heart.
My daily tasks included sending emails to the staff of the senator’s media presence from the day prior, reading newspapers from the major cities in Iowa and compiling them in a portfolio for the senator, and printing his schedule for the next day so that he was briefed for each meeting. One of my favorite daily tasks is reading newspapers from some of Iowa’s large cities: Waterloo, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Sioux City. I get to read amazing stories from Iowans across the state and relay that information to the senator through his daily clips.
I worked on administrative, press, and legislative projects, and no two days ever looked the same. I wrote and sent out letters to constituents on behalf of the senator, attended live TV hits with him, like interviews on Fox News, took legislation to the Senate floor, researched topics before Senate Agriculture, Judiciary, or Finance Committee hearings, and so much more.
The senator takes so much pride in his annual 99 County Meetings tour, where he tours all 99 counties in Iowa to visit businesses and host Q&A sessions for his constituents. After each week of state work periods, I got to update his website and connect it to his social media accounts so that website visitors can see his trips to each of the counties.
Senator Grassley and his staffers always made me feel as if I was a permanent part of the team and gave me large responsibilities. During not one, but two Vote-a-Ramas, I documented the hundreds of amendments to massive expansive bills. I ran into multiple senators and had many great conversations with my boss. I witnessed some of the largest events in modern-American history, such as January 6th, impeachment trials, and Covid bills.
The first month of my stay in D.C., my street was barricaded and occupied by the National Guard, and the Capitol was strictly guarded. Through this and the pandemic, I had to learn to make the best of my semester, regardless of the adversities I faced. As the weather got warmer and restaurants eventually opened, I was able to explore D.C. a little more. Every Sunday I walked to the monuments, ate from a food truck, and observed the beauty of the city.
I have so many great memories from this semester, but I truly did get some of the best experiences. During one of my trips to the Senate cloakroom, I went to the rotunda and much to my surprise, I had it all to myself. I was able to observe the work of our Founding Fathers and recollect on my time in Washington. With no tourists or visitors, it was hard to believe that I first stood in the rotunda seven years prior, dreaming of working on the Hill one day.