OutPower

My Entrance Into the D.C. Realm – Adin Burwell

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

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I arrived in Washington, D.C. late Monday night. I was suffering from jetlag as I just got back into the United States earlier that weekend. I checked into where we are staying and knocked out to go to sleep. I was able to meet the rest of the Victory Congressional Intern cohort early the next morning. We all then traveled together to the main Victory Office building. There, we went through what to expect with the program. We also had the honor of meeting and speaking with Mayor Annise Parker, a public servant who was Houston’s first openly gay mayor. Mayor Parker shared a lot of relevant advice and interesting stories.

Afterwards, we had a workshop on Networking and Imposter Syndrome. The networking workshop was really helpful to me. I don’t struggle with making connections, but making connections in a business only sense is something new to me, as I tend to enjoy making connections more organically first. However, I know that networking is essential to finding a career and new opportunities. As for the Imposter Syndrome workshop, it was amazing being able to hear from everyone about their feelings of imposter syndrome and knowing that we would be able to count on one another. I’ve spoken about these things before but never in the context of something so large and imposing like being on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday we had an amazing tour of the U.S. Capitol. Every intern was dressed in their business professional best. Us Victory interns strutted through the capitol building feeling like we were on top of the world. We got group photos and headshots outside. We had a little bit of fun as well and made a TikTok. After having lunch at the Capitol and hearing from current staffers, we returned to Victory where we had a meet and greet with staff. The day ended with hearing from Victory Congressional Internship alumni. It was great to hear how well people are doing who were just recently in the position that we are in now.

I finally began my first day at the office. I waited anxiously outside the large Rayburn office building for my Staff Assistant. I felt a rush of excitement and nervousness. The first day consisted of reviewing staff rules, learning how to take constituent calls, and getting my ID badge! I felt so official getting my House Identification badge. It is mind blowing that this ID Badge gives me access to everywhere on the Capitol grounds. I have access to our governmental buildings. I don’t need to be escorted – I am the escorter. It’s such a strange feeling knowing that I am an official in Congress with the right to be here. As I worked more in my office, I learned how to use the House system for data collection and about letter writing. After work, I’ve been able to spend quality time with the other Victory interns. It has been so refreshing to be able to have others to debrief with and who understand what it is like on the Hill.

My first Monday in DC I took my first phone call on my own. This phone call inspired me. It made me really rethink our political system and how change is or isn’t made. I realized where the power is really held, and that a lot of people’s last effort when they don’t know where to go or what to do is to reach out to their member of Congress. There are so many issues in society that need their own bills and that need their own addressing. Sadly, not everyone can get someone to listen to their concerns, let alone get a bill on the floor or passed. This makes me think about what I could do as a public servant in the future.

I continued my work throughout the day, and even tried the Rayburn veggie pizza for the first time(would recommend). At the end of the day, I was given permission to leave early. I attended the Don’t Look Away Rally. Right next to the reflecting pool, I stood and listened to young activists and Senators speak about gun violence. Senator Cory Booker was especially inspiring. He told the crowd that us young folks are the answer and hope. It gave me a lot of hope in the face of some of the issues our country is facing. I think it’s also crucial to highlight young voices. I think students and young people’s opinions are often discounted, especially when the representation of our age group is not allowed. It felt good knowing that these Senators that I’ve seen on my Twitter feed and on TV are real, they’re here, they’re listening, and they care.

Victory has given me the opportunity to be present in our nation’s capital where change is made. It has also helped me consider young representation in policy and the intersectionality or lack thereof that I see on Capitol Hill on a daily basis. The rally was such a powerful experience and a great way to end my first week in DC!