Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: D.C. Externships

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Work on Capitol Hill

Graham Youngs ‘11

I packed a little differently for Spring break this year, exchanging my swim trunks for a business suit.  For spring break this year I was able to combine business with pleasure as I was given the opportunity to serve as an extern on Capitol Hill.  I worked under alumnus Mark Walker, who currently serves as the Chief of Staff for Congressman Burton. 

This opportunity has been both educational and inspiring as I can assure you there is never a dull moment on the Hill.  I spent most of the week observing work done by the legislative assistants and answering phone calls from concerned members of Indiana’s own 5th district.  The phones were particularly active following comments made by the Congressman threatening those Salvadorans living in the U.S. with the loss of their immigration status and the inability to send money home to their families if voters in El Salvador elect the opposition FMLN party's candidate.  I found dealing with the disgruntled constituents to be a test of patience, however I am gaining a first hand appreciation for the congressional process. 

As I walk the halls of the Rayburn building, across the street from the Capitol, it is hard not to notice a certain awe-inspiring atmosphere in the air.  This feeling of significance becomes reinforced as I sit at my desk and hear the Congressman dictate orders to as many as three legislative assistants simultaneously—work on the Hill is not for the faint of heart.  The allure of working in the Capitol draws a variety of political enthusiasts ranging from college interns to vocal lobbyists.  During my stay in the Capitol city I have been fortunate enough to meet with numerous alumni who work as lawyers, defense contractors, as well as FBI agents in the greater DC area.  I feel blessed to be given the chance to meet with some truly passionate Wabash alumni and will no doubt remember this truly unique spring break experience.