2017 PCIG Recipient Humna Sharif
Journal Entry #1
As an Environmental Science and ETP double major at UVA, I want to work with policy makers for better environmental legislation to be passed. The incredible scientific research being done all over the world can help us transition towards a more environmentally sustainable society. Nevertheless, there is a need for more people who understand both the scientific and policy aspects of the world’s current environmental predicament.
I have been able to take many science courses, and some politics classes during my time in college. However, I decided to dedicate my time off from school this year to attaining practical policy and legislative experience. This summer I have the amazing opportunity to intern with Senator Mark Warner of Virginia in the US Senate Washington DC. My six-week internship began on July 5th, and ends on August 11. During this time I will work close to 35-40 hours every week.
I chose to apply for this internship because Senator Warner has voiced his support for environmental conservation on multiple occasions. Being able to work on policy issues in my own state seemed the best way to creating a career in environmental policy. At this internship, I will get the opportunity to engage in a myriad of different U.S. Senate related tasks.
Having started my internship only 3 days ago, I have not been assigned a legislative area yet. The first few days have been spent in orientations and training. Senator Warner’s office has highlighted several key experiences for interns to engage in during their time at the Senate, and the Capitol to make this internship a well-rounded experience.
The first day began with a brief orientation and introduction of other interns (there are 10 in my group, including me). The orientation was followed by a trip to the ID office, where getting our U.S. Senate Intern IDs was a milestone moment. The senate IDs grant interns quasi-staff status, the ability to freely move between office buildings, and access the Capitol.
Afterwards we were sent on a scavenger hunt through the Senate office buildings (Hart, Dirksen, and Russel) as well as the Capitol Hill to familiarize ourselves with the surroundings. The office buildings, the Capitol, and the Library of Congress are all connected through tunnels, and on several floors of the buildings. This makes it easier to move from place to place, but also provides ample opportunity for new interns to get lost. I am happy to say that our office gave us plenty of time to explore, and take in our new surroundings.
Diving into the whole busy office experience, I along with 4 other interns received voicemail and phone training on day 2. Diligently hearing out all constituents’ opinions, thoughts and concerns is a vital part of Senator Warner’s office, and the interns had a chance to understand how public opinions and responses impact the workings of the government.
The third day being today was dedicated to the Capitol. The interns were given an extensive tour of the Capitol building, while also being trained to give staff led tours to constituents who ask for them. Being a huge fan of history, and having read about the capitol so many times (without ever getting to see it) today really was one of the best days ever for me. Security training, and the logistical reality of several thousand-people visiting the capitol every day for a tour went hand in hand with historical facts, and visually appealing architecture of the hill during today’s work day. I read about the U.S. Capitol 8 years ago, in Dan Brown’s book Lost Symbol. I put it on my list of places to one day visit, right alongside the Duomo of Florence, the Egyptian Pyramids, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and many other world landmarks. I am happy to say that today I crossed the first item off that last. I would have never gotten such a detailed tour, and the opportunity to go back over and over to explore had it not been for this internship.
The training leg of the internship is almost at an end, on Monday the interns dive into the legislative and admin work of the office. So far, I have not done any environmental policy work; it’s possible I may only get to work on my specific issue area for a short while. However, for a college student with no practical experience in the policy or legislative fields, all related work regardless of subject is an extremely important learning resource. I know for certain that every single second I spend in the Senate offices, and the Capitol is teaching me valuable skills, and building my knowledge base to supplement everything I have learnt in the classrooms.
More on my commute time, legislation, fellow interns, and Senator Warner next week (I haven’t met him just yet). And I will post pictures.
PS: This place is full of UVA students and Alumni. My intern group has 3 undergrad students, 1 grad student, and an alum; all from UVA. Even the staff has a few UVA grads.
Journal Entry #2
more information coming soon...
Journal Entry #3
more information coming soon...