Growth and Gratefulness – Alejandro Rodriguez

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci

Walking to work this morning feels a little different than all the others. What’s usually a joyful stroll is slightly tainted with sadness. This will be one of my last walks to Capitol Hill as a congressional intern. The ten weeks that I had in front of me are now fading behind me. As I begin to reflect on this experience, I do so with a smile and excitement for my future because, thanks to Victory, I’m certain on one thing – that my future will be very promising.

Back in September, I touched down in DC knowing that I had a lot to learn and I was eager to soak up all that I could over the next ten weeks of my life. Going from being a full-time student and Uber driver to a full-time congressional intern brought some culture shock. I had to develop a new routine and something that I lacked for a long time – a consistent sleep schedule! Nevertheless, I did what needed to be done and soon found myself joining the daily hustle and bustle to and from work. I found a new sense of purpose and inspiration each day as the Capitol Dome came into view.

My confidence has grown each week just as my professional network has. Not only have I been afforded the opportunity to meet countless distinguished professionals thanks to Victory’s Friday programming but also thanks to my internship. Being in person on the Hill, I have met numerous individuals in and around the Capitol. Being placed in the House Democratic Caucus Office was a true blessing. I’ve had numerous opportunities to meet, chat, and socialize with House Members. Thanks to my office placement I now have pictures with Reps. Ilhan Omar, Sheila Jackson Lee, Kai Kahele, Frank Mrvan, Teresa Leger Fernandez, and even Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Being exposed to such high-ranking politicians and seeing the effort they put into their work has truly motivated me and has deepened my passion for public service. Having had the honor to sit in caucus meetings has also enlightened me on the behind-the-scenes events and negotiations that occur before votes take place. Hearing members advocate for their districts or plea for certain policies reminded me of why I’m here and why I’m determined to do the same for my community. After all, that’s who I’m here for.

This experience has been life-changing. I’ve gained everything and more that I wanted and I’m beyond grateful and thankful to have met the people I have met, to have seen the sights throughout DC that I’ve seen, to have made lifelong friendships with my fellow interns and life-changing professional connections that will help further my political ambitions. I simply could not ask for anything more. All my memories of the last ten weeks are flashing through my head this very moment. Running around DC with my fellow VCIs, getting lost but not caring because we’re having fun through it all, walking into my office placement my first day, and fighting back tears because I simply couldn’t believe that I’m here working on Capitol Hill and even later that day walking into the Longworth cafeteria getting the familiar feeling of a high school cafeteria (except this time instead of being divided by jocks and scholars it’s divided by Democrats and Republicans), chilling with my fellow VCIs on the rooftop back at Onyx talking about our days and making plans for the weekend, and so much more. I look forward to going through my camera roll when I get home, despite knowing it’ll cause a few tears to fall. I know I’ll be smiling through it all, overwhelmed with pure happiness and gratitude for this experience and the friends that I made along the way.