2007 PFIG Recipient Nicole Commodore

Career Administrator

Nicole Commodore 
College of Arts & Sciences
Foreign Affairs 
2008 Graduation Year

Internship: Senator Dick Durbin's Office in Chicago, IL.

I applied to Senator’s Dick Durbin’s internship last summer. I went through the interview process and wrote several essays. Several weeks later I received an offer but unfortunately I had already accepted another internship. I told them that I really wanted it and I asked if I could work there this summer. They agreed and I reapplied last December and received another acceptance letter a couple of weeks later.I have always had an interest in politics, so I hope to understand how Dick Durbin helps his constituents and runs his office. I also want to learn more about politics and hopefully gain some useful contacts. Senator Dick Durbin also has many departments in his office such as Press and Constituents services, so I would like to learn something about each field. I want this summer to be an enjoyable but valuable experience.

Notes on the first week

My internship at Senator Dick Durbin’s office began May 14th. My first week as an intern has been fun but hectic. I’m busy from the time I walk in at 8:30am until I leave at 5pm. I work for the Director of Constituent Services, Kai Love. Ms. Love is a great boss, she explains everything but she is not a micro manager. The other bosses are also very nice. There are 15 interns and we are all from Chicago but we go to different universities. We get along very well but we do not get to spend that much time together because we work in different departments. I usually have the same schedule every day. My job consists of making files for new casework and handling all inquiries that come from Senator Durbin’s constituents. I make files for every fax, letter and mail inquiry we receive. My boss actually needs two interns because of her heavy workload.We are on the 38th floor and the view is amazing; our offices have lake and city views. It is a pretty close office and everyone is very friendly. Throughout the summer, we will take field trips to interesting sites around Chicago and we will have meetings with important people in Senator Durbin and Senator Obama’s camps. We will also tutor immigrants who are trying to pass their citizenship exam once a week at Erie House Community Center. This summer should be informative and very rewarding.

Midway

My internship in Senator Dick Durbin’s office is almost over and now my work load is pretty predictable. I know what to expect each day and I really enjoy it. However there are some days where I am able to attend Press Conferences or spend the afternoon with the Senator. In addition to my regular work with Constituents Services, I am working on a Congressional Field Hearing with Senator Durbin and Congressman Rush. They will discuss the creation of a Consumer Product Safety Commission on the Dangers of Magnetic Toys. When I am able to do different things, I really enjoy it. Our speakers’ series and field trips were also very informative, we learned about obtaining jobs in the government and attended City Council meetings. We also have various projects such as a daily DC Update and Visa Projects. The DC Update allows us to gain an overview of the political events that happen in DC, Illinois and around the World. The Visa project helps us better serve our constituents with Immigration problems. As a group, we also are tutoring immigrants who are trying to pass their Citizenship exam. This is a very rewarding experience. This entire internship has been great and I hope it continues until the very end.

Final Reflections

I’m sad to say that my internship is now over. I had a great time. I will miss the other interns the most; we had so much fun together. I will also miss the new experiences I had each day. I learned so much about public service and the running of a political office. Senator Dick Durbin’s tireless commitment to his Constituents and his Country is incredible. Towards the end of the internship we were able to have lunch with him and he discussed the qualities one needed to run for political office. His number one quality was that "a person must really like people." Even though it is a simple answer, it really is the most important quality.This internship has also taught me about politics on a local level. By dealing with citizens from Illinois, I was able to hear about their concerns and successes. I also heard what they wanted from their elected officials and the reasons that would make them not vote or vote for a particular candidate. These encounters made me truly appreciate the role of public service in American society. The amount of dedication one needs to be a public servant is remarkable but the job would be very rewarding. The guest speakers and field trips have also been very informative because they allowed us to learn about the different aspects of politics and government. This entire summer has been a wonderful experience.