By: Katie Heinrich
Current Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communications department students are interning this summer in Washington D.C. through the Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Internship program.
The Agriculture Natural Resources Policy internship program is continuing into its 23rd year of providing substantial experiences for students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences by exposing them to policy issues through a congressional internship experience.
The 2013 summer internship group consists of 11 students, said Arlene Kent, Assistant Director of the Policy Internship Programs. Students will remain in the district for 10 weeks as the internship schedule follows the 10-week summer session schedule for Texas A&M, she said. During that time, students will work for U.S. congressmen and other agriculturally based entities including the House Committee on Agriculture and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Kent said the summer interns will get a good glimpse of not only trending policy issues like immigration and the Farm Bill, but will also get to participate in events and national holidays at the capitol and socials hosted by the Washington D.C. A&M Club.
“Some things that are really popular for the interns to do during the summer, is provide constituents with tours of the Capitol building, attend the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, watch fireworks on Memorial Day and partake in Independence Day events,” Kent said.
Kent also said that while the in-session days may be fewer, the summer interns will still have the opportunity to attend hearings and briefings, attend networking events both on and off Capitol Hill, and get the chance to explore the rich culture of the district by visiting its many museums and numerous public events.
By participating in internships like the ANRP program, students gain knowledge about policy issues away from the Texas A&M environment and see the experience as a way to uphold citizen values as they learn about the government structure.
Callie McNulty, a junior agriculture communications and journalism major and english minor currently interning in the Office of Congressman Kevin Brady, said, “I feel my knowledge on public policy has grown by leaps and bounds since I started my internship.”
“By learning more about our government and how policy works, I can be a better constituent and have educated conversations with others,” McNulty said.
Taylor Keith, a senior agricultural communications and journalism major with a minor in business administration, said having a better understanding of the inner-workings of the policy and legislative system is going to help her be more aware of policy issues that could affect her as a student at Texas A&M and as an adult in the community.
“I think I will return to school with much more professionalism and the experience of communicating with adults and influential people,” she said.
Keith is currently interning in the Office of Congressman John Carter.
Getting the opportunity of being in a working and learning environment firsthand has also given the interns, like McNulty and Keith, experience, exposure and a time of personal growth.
“I feel as though internships are a great way to discover yourself, your likes and dislikes, and gain knowledge,” McNulty said. “It’s a hands-on experience, and I love being able to put what I learn in class into action. I feel as though students learn so much from ‘real-life’ experiences, like internships.”
Keith said she hopes to not only gain quality work experience through the internship, but wants to increase her ability to make connections that will hopefully benefit her search for a job following graduation in December of 2013.
Being an intern in the district is definitely different than being a student on campus during the summer McNulty said, and by being involved in the program, the interns are getting an insight to what the real world will offer.
“One thing that is very different than school, is the 9:00 to 6:00 schedule; I thought I was tired at school, but it is nothing like how tired I feel after a 40 hour week!” McNulty said. “I have also learned how to make the most of everything. Some days are busier than others and I have learned to make the most of each day on the job.”
Kent said an overwhelming response from students who have been through the program, is that they are exposed to a very practical convention of working a full-time job by waking up early, commuting to work, dressing up for the job every day, and even participation in office politics.
“This is great because it really is an opportunity to do a dry-run for students next professional endeavor where they are a full-time employee versus a full-time intern,” Kent said. “As an intern, you have the luxury of making mistakes without risk of losing your job as once you are in your first “real” job, you won’t have nearly the flexibility.”
Keith said that her work as an intern is a direct reflection of what her ability to complete tasks and handle certain stressful situations are compared to just achieving a certain grade as a student.
“My actions inside and outside of the office are a reflection of my office and my congressman which is much different than just being a student at A&M,” Keith said.
Being 4,000 plus miles away from their permanent home in Texas, definitely makes room for an adventure call and a specific “to-do” list for the new city and atmosphere.
McNulty said she would like to go to Hill Country BBQ to savor some of Texas’ favorites away from home-country music and Blue Bell Ice Cream, while Keith hopes to visit the Arlington National Cemetery to check it off of her D.C. bucket list, she said.
Mark Hussey, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is scheduled to dine with the interns sometime this week and TAMU president R. Bowen Loftin, Ph.D., might be able to meet with the interns as he has done in the past, if time permits during his upcoming visits to the district, Kent said.
Tera Carroll a senior agriculture leadership and development major is also interning through the ANRP internship with NASDA.
For more information about the ANRP program and the students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences currently interning in Washington, D.C., visit http://agintern.tamu.edu/