By: Christen Wilson
Students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University have the opportunity to participate in a number of high-impact learning experiences, including the Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Internship program. This past spring, the ALEC department was well represented in the program: six of the fourteen participants in the program were ALEC students.
For Kelsey Burleson,’12, an agricultural leadership and development major, working with Congressman Ralph M. Hall of the 4th district of Texas, her internship experience was much more than answering phone calls from constituents, taking down their information and transferring calls. Her main responsibility was maintaining constituent relations.
“The program allows us to code each constituent, keep track of how they want Congressman Hall to vote on a particular bill, and then we have their address to send out response letters,” said Burleson.
Lauren Thompson Class of ’11 graduated this past December with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and journalism began the internship program with the hopes of full-time job in the DC area. She after serving a month of her ANRP internship, she was hired for a full-time position.
She is now a staff writer at the Media Research Center in Alexandria, VA. Before beginning her full-time position, Thompson enjoyed many perks of being an ANRP intern, walking around the Capitol on errand runs for the congressman and participating in briefings.
“A really great perk to being a Congressional intern is sitting in on briefings and hearings. I have a huge interest in foreign policy and was able to sit in on a few briefings about the situation in Afghanistan,” said Thompson.
Patti Free, ‘13, agricultural leadership, education, and communications major, worked for Congressman John R. Carter of the 31st District of Texas. She scheduled meeting times and planned events. She said that the program is a great experience, even if the end goal is not a career in politics. She said that the ANRP program is a great way to broaden your experiences, learn new skills and meet new contacts. Her advice for anyone interested in the program is to “just do it.”
Kelsey Harris, ‘12 a double-major in agricultural communications and journalism and agricultural leadership, has plans to go back after graduation.
“I have caught Potomac fever. I plan to stay in D.C. until August and am in the process of interviewing for summer internships at a few political communications firms and press internships on the Hill. I graduate early in December and will hopefully head right back to D.C.” said Harris.
Burleson and Thompson have a few pieces of advice to anyone looking into an internship with the program:
- · Read and watch the news
- · Practice your interviewing skills
- · Always be honest to an interviewer
- · Develop your writing skills for your essay; choose a great topic idea
- · Smile and be confident
- · Invest in a good business professional/casual wardrobe, and comfortable shoes
“The application and interview process may seem daunting for prospective students, but I promise it is worth it,” said Burleson. “The opportunity to live in D.C. for a semester (for free), meet some great people, and learn the policy-making process in our Nation’s Capital, is truly a once in a lifetime experience.”