2020 PFIG Recipient Audrey Hirshberg
Journal Entry #1
This summer I was excited to work as an intern at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. This was my ideal internship, as it combined many of my diverse interests, from public policy to business to international affairs, while allowing me to experience life in a new city. Although my internship changed drastically with the transition to a virtual experience due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the epidemic actually permitted me to assume greater responsibility at the Chamber. Rather than working on a single International Affairs team, the virtual nature of my internship has enabled me to provide assistance to both the Americas and Europe teams.
As a result, I have the opportunity to do research for a wide variety of countries from Colombia to Ireland and sit in on meetings with government affairs executives from Fortune 500 companies and foreign countries’ finance ministers. Although an in-person internship would have focused much more on event organization and planning, my experience this summer has instead allowed me to participate in meetings I never would have been lucky enough to sit in on. In my first two weeks I have been tasked with upcoming events distributions, newsletter research and mailing, as well as country-specific rule of law updates. My internship’s online status has allowed for increased flexibility which lets me pursue my interests and have a part in picking my long-term assignments for the summer.
I also feel privileged to be working with the Chamber in such an important time in our nation’s history. As the country’s largest lobbying organization, the US Chamber plays a unique role in advocating for small businesses, many of whom are struggling during the pandemic. The Chamber serves as a voice for those business owners through championing their interests on the Hill. The company has also taken a much stronger stance on supporting minority businessowners in light of the staggering racial inequality in our nation. Although I am only two weeks into my internship, I look forward to seeing what progress is made on these issues over the course of my summer with the Chamber.
Journal Entry #2
It’s hard to believe that I’m already more than halfway done with my internship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I now realize that I didn’t have a complete grasp on the Chamber’s operations before my internship started. Although I knew that the Chamber’s main responsibility was to advocate for its members, one of its main aims is to provide resources for member companies before they even know they need them. This includes arranging events where members can ask questions of industry leaders as well as gathering responses to provide feedback on government consultations. Much of my job has centered around providing background logistics support to make my supervisors’ jobs easier.
As the weeks have progressed, I have found myself more and more able to take initiative on projects and pursue my interests. One of the best parts of my job is that one of my responsibilities is to stay up to date on current events. Every week I compile information for country-specific newsletters for the EU, UK, Mexico, Colombia, and Cuba, which provides me with a diverse array of knowledge that I likely would not have had the time to research on my own. While I am contributing to my own personal growth, I am also performing a service for the Chamber’s member companies and providing them with the most up-to-date information on investment climates around the world.
I have also learned the importance of networking as the weeks have passed. My internship’s virtual format has made it difficult to meet people and form connections in the same manner that I would in person, but I’ve found that the best way to put myself out there is to be the person that speaks up to answer a question posed to the group, however scary that might be. I have been fortunate in that the Chamber has continued to place an emphasis on social hours and coffee chats which have enabled me to meet my coworkers in other teams and departments. I look forward to growing my professional network as I wrap up my internship in the next few weeks, and I’m excited to continuing developing the friendships and partnerships that this opportunity has afforded me.
Journal Entry #3
As my internship comes to a close, it is crazy to think that I have spent the past 10 weeks of my summer working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from the desk in my basement. I have learned so much over the course of my internship, from technical skills like the operation of Salesforce and Cvent platforms to interpersonal skills like email and video call etiquette. Although we haven’t been communicating face-to-face in an office setting, my supervisors have been great about providing me with feedback, words of affirmation and constructive criticism which have allowed me to become a better employee for the Chamber and for my future employers.
During my end of internship reviews for the two departments I have worked in over the course of the summer, I was truly able to realize the impact I was able to have on the Chamber. In the last two months I have done everything from brief senior executives for upcoming meetings with foreign dignitaries to evaluate countries’ adherence to the rule of law through one-page reports. I have established a reputation for myself as an enthusiastic team player who will do my best to tackle any challenge thrown at me, and consequently have received an offer to continue working for the Chamber virtually through the fall semester.
My experience this summer (and opportunity to continue into the fall) would not have been possible without the help of the Parents Fund. I am so thankful that I was afforded the opportunity to grow my professional skills this summer and work towards a future career despite the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the workforce.