Fifteen minutes later he ended the call with an internship secured and dreams of his upcoming semester in D.C.
He was busy in the Cloakroom as he learned about his duties and memorized the faces and names of the Members. “The Cloakroom staff and interns track legislation on the floor and provide Members and offices with an estimate as to when the votes may be,” says James. He helped track the voting processes, ensured that Members were voting, and provided them with materials they needed while on the floor.
James took classes at the Willard Office building, an IU-satellite for students who still need to attend classes while interning in D.C. His professors had insights they shared with him to enhance his understanding of Capitol Hill.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 brought his internship to an early halt, but not before he got to see firsthand the most thrilling night of his semester.
“On March 13th, I came into work expecting the House to consider legislation addressing the coronavirus and its impact on families. As Speaker Pelosi negotiated with the Trump Administration and House Republicans throughout the day, I sat in the House Democratic Cloakroom relaying updates to Democrats in Congress and projected vote times on the legislation. Hours passed with no deal on the floor for consideration. The clock passed midnight and finally a deal had been reached. Congress voted on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (phase 2 of the federal coronavirus response) during the early hours of Saturday, March 14. The House gaveled out after passing the critical piece of legislation, and I walked home at two o'clock in the morning, not knowing that this would be my last night on the job.”
Though James finished out the spring semester studying from home, he takes with him all of the experiences and knowledge he gained from his time in D.C. Most of all, his impression of Members of Congress as incredibly diverse, all hailing from different backgrounds, affirmed his decision to work in the public sector. “This taught me that there is not a set path that anyone must take to engage in public service. Simply having the desire and motivation to make a difference is all that it takes.”
Story by Devyn Blandford