Constituents

This is part of series of posts by recipients of the 2020 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Megan Striff-Cave, COL ’23

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Interning for United States Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was an incredible experience which I was extremely fortunate to have. Due to COVID-19, the summer internship was a hybrid–partly remote, partly in person. I lived in the Capitol Hill area and would walk to work on the days I could be in the office.

Working during both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests was eye-opening. Part of my job was using iQ, a communications and process management tool, to listen to voicemails, read email, and look at faxes sent from constituents. Then, I would sort each piece of communication by assigning them an issue code.  Every day, I listened to hundreds of constituents who would call to advocate for policies such as a federal eviction moratorium because of financial problems exacerbated by COVID-19, for police reform legislation in reaction to the murder of George Floyd.  Oftentimes, these people would discuss their connections to these pertinent issues, and through this work, I gained the invaluable perspective of different communities from my home state.

I also had the opportunity to dial into different hearings and Zoom into different briefings. Seeing my little square on Zoom next to Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s as we discussed environmental policies was a little bizarre, but very cool! After, I would write policy memos for the Legislative Aides to summarize and analyze them, and highlight what the impacts of the issues discussed are on Connecticut. I had the opportunity to sit in on Judiciary committee hearings which discussed legislation in response to the Black Lives Matter protests.

I also wrote a policy analysis on an issue that I wanted Senator Blumenthal to focus on during his tenure in the Senate. I wrote my analysis on Sen. Gillibrand’s CASA bill (Campus Accountability and Safety Act), a piece of legislation that focused on campus sexual assault, an issue I care deeply about, and felt I could provide a unique perspective on, being on a college student myself. I met with the Legislative Aide which focuses on issues relating to education to discuss and edit my paper. The interns got the opportunity to meet not only all the Aides but all the members of the Blumenthal staff through virtual “brown bag meetings” to help us understand the different career paths we could take.

Finally, during the in-office days, I did lots of administrative work for the very few staff members still working in the office. However, I did get to deliver some bills,

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including one about college athletes, to the Senate Cloakroom so it could be discussed on the Senate floor! While riding the underground “Senate Subway,” which took us from the Hart Office Building to the Capitol Building, the other interns and I ran into and met several Senators! We also got to sit down with Senator himself and discuss our studies, interests , and political aspirations.

My internship experience was one I will never forget. The experiences of working in a fast-paced environment and learning to interact with constituents provided me the tools necessary to pursue public service. The experience showed me that there is no better way to learn about the legislative branch than being able to interact with it firsthand. Serving as a Senate Intern for Senator Blumenthal taught me so much about the intricacies of the public process, as well as applying my vast political knowledge. Being immersed in the world of federal politics gave me an education experience no classroom could.

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