Jonathon Copsey ’20 Capitol Hill – At the time of this writing, I am half-way through my fourth week working in the D.C. Office of Congressman, fellow Sigma Chi Brother, and Wabash Alum, Todd Rokita. I have already had many great experiences, and I look forward to many more. I would have neither heard the President, Vice President, or Ms. Conway speak, nor would I have visited the White House, performed research, and met so many great people without the help of the WLAIP. I am truly grateful for this opportunity.
I have had a handful of jobs in my short professional life, but none as busy, exciting, or informative as my current one. Despite Mr. Rokita’s busy schedule, he has taken the time to meet with all interns to get to know us and is always friendly in passing. Although the office layout is similar to that of other House offices (Senate offices have triple the staff and are laid out depending on location and building), the atmosphere of the office is what can make or break an experience. I have been blessed to be able to work with a knowledgeable and supportive staff. The staff is willing to answer questions that I have; as experts in policy issues and the legislative language, they are great resources for information on bills and policy issues. I have learned more about policy issues working here in a legislative/think tank office than in any traditional classroom.
My work focuses on attending briefings, performing research, and writing policy memorandums. There is a certain amount of autonomy as I get to attend briefings and perform research based on my interests. For example, earlier this week, I attended a briefing sponsored by Congressman Pete Session and the Navy League of the United States. I was able to listen to former Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman. I sat at a table with the Admirals. Through them and additional research I performed for my memo, I have learned more about the capabilities and specifications of our non-carrier fleet than some of the midshipmen that I am acquainted with know. Legislative Memorandums are also great tools to learn about what bills actually do. Most bills make huge changes by simply changing a handful of words in already existing documents.
Interns are responsible for leading tours of the Capitol as well. This summer was the first time I had ever been in the Capitol Building; after twenty or so times, it still has not gotten old. We are also able to go to the House Galleries at will and onto the House floor on out-of-session days. I also visited the White House with a group of IN-04 constituents.
Interns and D.C. staff get to attend many political events for free. Between June 8th and June 10th, I was able to attend a luncheon where President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz spoke, a Town Hall event with Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell, an event where Ambassador Dermer and Ms. Kellyanne Conway spoke, and a dinner where Vice President Pence was the keynote speaker. Similar events happen weekly.
Working in Congress is a lot to take in, even for the most knowledgeable, but what many people just out of college often leave out is living in D.C. The city is filled with things to do. There are daily public events that range from free outdoor movies to social drinking events like Jazz in the Park. The night life, if you are of age, makes The Cactus look like Crawfordsville on a Tuesday night. And of course, seeing the monuments, Smithsonian Institution, and nearby landmarks (especially for the first time) is exciting. With the knowledge and experience I am gaining and the network I am building, I have sincerely enjoyed my time in D.C. until now and would be excited to come back if another opportunity arises.