Capitol Hill Internship & Life in Washington, DC as a Senior STEM Student

Yosra Abdulwahid interned in the office of Colorado Senator Michael Bennet as both a legislative and communication intern in the spring 2023. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in science and technology policy issues.

I am interning this spring semester at Invariant, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Invariant is ranked in the top ten lobbying firms in the nation, being the top firm led by a sole proprietor. Invariant has eight government relations practice groups, and I was assigned to the consumer products team.

Invariant’s consumer products team was my top choice of the eight and was one of the main factors that drew me to the firm. In May, I will graduate from UIUC with my bachelor’s in political science and a minor in legal studies with a concentration in food security and sustainability economics. I have taken multiple classes in the Agricultural and Consumer Economics department through my minor, including food law, agricultural law, and environmental law, which led me to realize my passion for consumer safety and advocacy. These factors and my interest in lobbying led me to Invariant. My internship at Invariant has allowed me to explore my interests on a much deeper level while working alongside some of the profession’s top and most experienced names. One of my favorite parts is having supervisors that are just as enthusiastic about consumer products as I am.

The entire Invariant team has made my experience at the firm invaluable. The analysts and lobbyists in my practice group, intern coordinator, and other staff have pushed me to grow in my knowledge and skills and continue to be incredible mentors. I have had personal networking meetings with multiple staff members whom I do not directly work with daily but who were willing to sit down with me to discuss their paths and my career plans.

As an intern, I provide same-day congressional hearing and event coverage to circulate to the firm’s consumer products clients, produce a weekly policy newsletter for client publication, and monitor client-relevant news and legislative/regulatory developments, among other tasks. I primarily provide congressional hearing and event coverage to clients, communicate with analysts and principals to discuss client matters, and monitor client-relevant news and legislative/regulatory developments for twenty consumer products clients. I also receive frequent requests from analysts to complete projects for a specific client meeting or issue. I primarily support the CP team but also provide coverage for clients belonging to other practice groups. To my benefit, Invariant assigns very substantive work to its interns. Both inside and outside of my practice group, clients receive the final versions of my hearing summaries, memos, and other materials. This allows me to provide significant contributions to my practice group.

My internship has also allowed me to interact with clients in various ways. I have attended in-person client meetings and interacted with government affairs and policy executives within client offices. Additionally, I accepted an invitation from Apple, a client of Invariant’s, to attend a reception where I met Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.

Along with my incredible internship experience, I have enjoyed multiple experiences I have acquired through PS 125, the Washington Experience. My favorite meetings have been with Illinois alumni–a policy advisor from Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office and two practicing attorneys at Sidley Austin. I also am looking forward to the lobbying exercise with Paul Weinberger, the Director of Federal Relations for the University of Illinois System.

My time participating in IIW has been an incredibly enriching experience that has provided me with substantive work experience and numerous opportunities to network with government relations professionals. My internship experience has also solidified my interest in government relations, advocacy, and consumer products, which I hope to continue pursuing after graduation.