American Studies student Eleanor Kellett reports from Capitol Hill where she is taking part in Flinders University’s Washington Internship Program.
If you told me that one day I would be walking the same halls as some of the biggest political leaders of the world I wouldn’t have believed it.
Yet, here I am today, working as an intern on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC for US Congressman, Mike Kelly, a Republican representing the third district of Pennsylvania.
Thanks to Flinders University’s exceptional Washington Internship Program, six other Flinders’ students have also been given this incredible opportunity.
Every morning I take a remarkable walk past the United States Capitol, which is tightly secured with Capitol Hill police on every corner, and walk into one of the many gorgeously detailed congressional office buildings.
I walk through security detectors every morning before I reach our office, where the peace and quiet lasts a short while before the office becomes abuzz with telephone calls, visitors, and a staff of about 10 people busily going about their work.
This is a fast paced environment but one that I can say is the greatest professional experience to encounter. I am an intern, and although that doesn’t get you very far it gets you further than what the public will see.
So this is what it looks like: you’re learning of the news at the same time as the media is reporting it, the hottest political issues are ever-changing and new relationships are constantly built and broken over policy and legislation.
Working for Representative Kelly has given me an insight into the relationships of Congress staff and their leaders. Running errands in an effort to network, I constantly find myself lost in the underground passages of the congressional buildings whilst trying to find offices of the other 434 House representatives and 100 Senators.
I was lucky enough to work in an office that put me to the test immediately, from answering the calls of Rep. Kelly’s constituents to researching issues for constituent responses and merging it with Mr Kelly’s position.
At a time where the world is watching the political tug-of-wars of Republicans vs Democrats and Congress vs the President, we enter the second session of 112th Congress. Top of the agenda is to fix the American economy, improve the health care system and put Americans back to work.
However, it is an election year.
The Florida Primaries have just finished and being in a Republican office, everyone is anxious about the coming weeks.
Everyone is watching the media and the Republican presidential candidates building cases, pleading to the people to determine who is best fit to take up the fight against the weakening support President Obama has. All while the government faces a fourth year of trillion-plus deficits in 2012. Talk on the Hill about what Republican runner is best suited is ever-changing. It is obviously a close race; however Mitt Romney has been better than his rivals in presidential debates so often.
After last year’s session when Congress fought over passing a budget, America’s AAA rating was lost and tensions were high, Congress is now working harder to get America back on track. But how far will they get in a Presidential election year where unachievable promises are made and anything contentious is left untouched.
This will be an exciting year for any politically savvy person and working on the Hill, for Mr Kelly, has given me the opportunity to see it from the front line.