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.
As my time on the Hill comes to a close, I feel the need to recall my memories, both positive and negative, that I would have never had the opportunity to know without being a part of such a unique program. The briefings on the Hill were something I had never heard of prior to joining my cohort this summer, so they take a special place in my heart as some of the most unique opportunities I had to learn about politics. The structure of briefings were reminiscent of classrooms in college (time span, necessity of note-taking, lecture-style explanations from speakers), so it was easy to be comfortable in these spaces. At the same time, it challenged me because my notes ceased to be something for my own personal gain; they were necessary for my staffers to get information they would otherwise have a difficult time receiving. This, in my opinion, is an underrated skill. I really appreciated having the time to hone this skill because it capitalizes on grasping the objectives of each point made, mince the words of the speaker without losing impact, and communicating such information in an engaging but informative fashion. As a writer myself, I was reluctant to believe there would be much to gain from something I have done for most of my academic life. However, the scope of politics changes the pressure that is placed on the content of personal notes, and I have learned so much in such a small amount of time. It would not be right if I were to speak about my time on the Hill without mentioning how my relationship with writing has changed with the privilege of attending as many briefings as I possibly could.
It would inaccurate of me to discuss my time on my Hill without mentioning the wave of emotions I felt while working in my office. Though this was not my first internship, the environment of a congressional office was unlike any other place of work I have ever entered. There is an undeniable hierarchy in a congressional office, as well as on Capitol Hill, and quite frankly in all of D.C. The sense of competition and the lack of solidarity between interns and staffers was a hard pill to swallow at first. Of course, everyone I encountered was polite and answered the questions I had, but the never-ending rhythm of the Hill left little room for compassion amongst my superiors. As someone who thrives off from relationship-building, this was a hard transition for me. Nevertheless, I persisted. I was not alone in these feelings, and confiding in my cohort and my colleagues helped me to navigate these thoughts and how to move away from discouragement. It took a couple of weeks to become comfortable in my office, allowing me to not take any coldness from my staffers personally. The staffers in Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s office were all there for the right reasons, as I learned from their interactions between each other. They were there to help the country in their own ways and understanding that they had their own tasks to tackle before offering me a helping hand was a necessary lesson. For future Victory interns who may be reading this; do not misunderstand me. Most people on the Hill are happy to help you in your endeavors. However, it is about meeting people where they are, and making your requests as easy to understand and deliver as possible. The pace of the Hill as a workplace can be taxing, but your staffers are there to help. What I gained from being in such an environment is how to adapt for the better, and this lesson is just as priceless as any of the other lessons I learned this summer. There are fun parts of the Hill, and friends to be made within the staffers and interns alike, so ultimately, it is a healthy mix of work and play.
However difficult working on the Hill may have been, I always knew my cohort would be there to provide the reassurance I needed to move forward to the next day. One of the most wonderful things about the small community we made in our cohort was the knowledge that all of us were compassionate people who had empathy and kinds at the source of their passion for politics. There were various issue areas that each of us were commonly associated with, but we were all fully supportive of each person’s views and how they intended to put their ideas into tangible policy. I am truly in awe of the people I can now proudly call my friends, and I’ll be there to support each and every one of their campaigns if and when they all run for office. Because the Victory Institute has passionate people working behind their cause to put LGBTQ+ people in office, I am sure there will be other accomplished cohorts, but I know my cohort is one of the best out there. These wonderful people give me hope for the future of America, though it can look unbelievably bleak at times, because in each of us, there is a fire that will not die. Making a change in this world is each of our callings, and I cannot express my excitement to see what each of my friends do with their intellect and potential. Though this summer went by in the blink of an eye, our impact as leaders in the LGBTQ+ community will last for an immeasurable amount of time, for those before and after us.