2019 Parents Fund Internship Grant Reflections: Max Castroparedes
Internship Location: Senate Intern for Senator Cornyn
The US Capitol is a massive labyrinth! Between being told that I couldn’t ride up an elevator because it was ‘Senators Only’ and discovering a dizzying array of underground tunnels - it has been a riveting week. I’m working with four other interns who are all from Texas. The Senator I’m interning for is Senator John Cornyn. His office is located in the Hart Senate Office Building and has roughly thirty employees.
The Senate has three office buildings that are located outside of the Capitol but are connected via underground tunnels. Hart is the ‘newest’ Senate office building since it began construction in 1975. On the other hand, the Russell building where Senator Kaine’s office is located is in the oldest Senate building.
The work this week has been our training week. I’ve had to go through tour training, recording voicemails, sorting mail, and laying out newspapers. Our dress code is suit and tie every day when the Senate is in session
I’m very excited for next week since I can get started on writing briefings & working on research projects for our legislative assistants & correspondents. I already got assigned to one that involves a visit to a conference held at a top think-tank in DC, CSIS.
I’m enjoying every minute of it and can’t wait to tour the National Portrait Gallery this weekend with a group of friends I met in the office of Senator Cruz (TX) and Senator Blackburn (TN). I’m keeping up with my morning jogs. They’ve been all the more enjoyable because of the beautiful scenery of the monuments.
It’s fair to say that I’m slowly growing my sea legs here on the Hill. Through meeting other interns and chatting with the staff I’ve gotten to learn how to find out about the receptions and lectures that go on during the day and after work. Hill Happenings is a fantastic resource that I would recommend any intern to check out for.
Later on, in the week I attended a briefing delivered by Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska on “Defending the Arctic.” This was an insightful talk focused on how the Arctic is becoming more militarized. The Senator preached that cooperation (for natural resources) and competition are two themes that define the Sino-Russo relationship in the Arctic. One fact I found especially interesting was that Russia has 6 new brigade teams - and 4 of them are in the Arctic. Later on in the day, I wrote a briefing on what was discussed for our foreign policy advisor.
Lastly, a few of the other interns and I have aggressively begun “snack trades” with other offices in the Senate. I had no clue what snack trades were before I arrived, but essentially what occurs is since most Senate offices are stocked with state-made goods (like for my office we had Frito’s, Dr. Pepper, and Skittles) interns would then take up the initiative and begin trades. Offices like Senator Joni Ernst would have freshly popped popcorn while Senator Kamala Harris stocked hers with pistachios and prunes. This was a fantastic way to meet other interns from all across the country - while also trying some new tasty snacks.
Beginning on a hot, summer morning in DC I made my way to the Heritage Foundation for a talk on “Cross-Strait Relations: China & Taiwan.” Afterward, I wrote a briefing and then had to sit deliver newspapers around our office. By the time I was finished with doing some tasks around the office for some of my colleagues I headed to a luncheon at the Capitol Hill Club hosted by the Republican National Lawyers Association. The speaker at the luncheon was Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and she gave the audience a speech focused on the big-tech firms and privacy.
But, this week is also special because Thursday is July 4th! Our office was gracious enough to get us tickets to watch President Trump’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial. After the speech, we watched the fireworks from the steps of the Capitol. It was a magnificent event to be apart of and the air show was simply phenomenal!
Another great week full of events, committee hearings and projects. Plus, Congressional Intern Appreciation Day happened this week. It was hosted by Kevin McCarthy, Dan Crenshaw, and Liz Cheney. This week was also especially interesting because I attended a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Google and its censorship policy. This topic became of increasing interest for me after hearing Sen. Blackburn’s comments last week and from conversations with Sen. Hawley when I was able to chat with him on the way to votes. He had a bill coming through addressing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which I had expressed interest in learning more about.
A big project I had this week to turn in to my supervisor was on the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The Office of Special Projects had released their July 2019 update and I had to write up a briefing on the objectives and some key highlights of the report.
However, the highlight of my week was having received a kind handwritten letter from a fellow Hoo who I had started talking to a few weeks ago while riding the underground train to the Capitol. His name is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (‘82 Law).