Bryce McCullough ’23 — First, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Wabash Public Policy Project (WPPP) at Wabash College for making this summer experience a reality. With their help, I lived graciously in Washington, D.C. I am immensely grateful for what you do to help Wabash men along their path to success. This summer, I had the honor of interning in Senator Todd Young’s office in Washington, D.C. It was one of the best experiences of my life – filled with sightseeing, meeting new friends, networking with Wabash alumni, and contributing to an office committed to bettering the lives of others.
Every morning I would wake up at 7:00 am, eat breakfast, put on a suit, and start my daily 12-minute commute to the Hill with my roommates. We would stop at a coffee shop down the road to sit, read the Wall Street Journal, and share our daily perspectives on life with each other before arriving at the Dirksen Senate office building at around 8:40 am. Once I got to Senator Young’s office, the staff assistants would give the interns a morning briefing, and we would report to our workstations. We rotated stations, so we got a healthy dose of different responsibilities. Among them, I would read and log incoming U.S. mail, listen and log voicemails, answer constituent phone calls, and watch Senate hearings while writing memos on them.
Moreover, I researched various policy areas for staff, wrote background memos on a few of President Biden’s judicial and cabinet nominees, completed flag requests, and ran errands for the office around the Capitol. We also conducted a couple of projects of our own. For example, my group compiled a list of innovations from Indiana, a list of Indiana fun facts to share on social media, and each week we would research “feel-good” stories from Indiana that Senator Young would be interested in reading. We also got to meet with members of Senator Young’s staff. Senator Young took us to the Library of Congress, where we looked at some Indiana artifacts, and then we ate lunch with him in the Senate Dining Room.
I committed myself to be a “sponge in D.C.” And I soaked in quite a bit. Being immersed in the office enhanced my professional etiquette skills, improved my ability to meet challenges head-on, attuned me to the importance of being flexible, and even improved my writing. The best part of my experience was witnessing Senator Young’s Endless Frontier Act being debated and eventually passed. This legislation – a bill — focused on making the U.S. more competitive with China in science and technology – is a rare find due to its magnitude and bipartisan support. Interns played an active role in making it happen through tracking and recording every amendment proposed. This bill, along with others that expand affordable housing, invest in educational opportunities, and Senator Young’s agreement to join a bipartisan infrastructure bill, helped me appreciate and respect Senator Young’s approach to his work. If someone has an idea and it will help the people while staying true to his values, it is good enough for the Senator. That philosophy is something I will carry with me.
At first, I was stars-truck walking past U.S. Senators every day (and even Attorney General Merrick Garland once). But they put their pants on every day as we do. It made me realize that each of us can make a difference; however, we see fit. And I, along with all the other young professionals, belonged there. The Senate allowed me to see how the sausage is processed. All Wabash students should get that opportunity, and I encourage all who are public-minded to intern in D.C. Because of WPPP, it is possible!