OutPower

My Epilogue to an Important Chapter – Unique McFerguson

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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Who would have thought that the internship I applied to on a whim would have such an impact on my personal and professional growth? I remember making a promise that I would reward myself by taking it easy my last semester of college after going through a turbulent college experience. Internship opportunities get emailed to me all of the time and they go into the trash almost as quickly as they come in. However, when I learned about the Victory Congressional Internship, I thought that one application wouldn’t hurt.

I saw the opportunity of learning more about my own LGBTQ identity and the history and culture around the LGBTQ community as a worthy reason to break my promise. Fast forward to months after that fateful decision, I am now in a place within myself and this world that I could not have imagined when I hit the submit button. 

One of the goals I set for this internship was to learn more about the legislative process and potential careers in the Federal Government. Interning with Representative Mondaire Jones provided the perfect opportunity to interact with other professionals in the field and to preview a potential career as a congressional staffer.

I was surprised by the level of constituent interaction. I knew that casework is a major function of the legislative branch, but law-making and oversight are the exciting functions that are publicized so they seem more important. Congressional offices do a lot on the backend for their constituents. Nonetheless, I’ve had the opportunity to conduct legislative research, give my own perspective on potential bills to sponsor and cosponsor, and attend briefings exclusive to those on the Hill. Before this internship, I had the slightest knowledge of what a job in Congress would entail, but I now have a well-informed idea of the life of a policymaker and congressional staffer.  

Our weekly Victory Institute programming was a safe and productive space that fostered a mix of personal and professional growth. Our workshops allowed me to work through personal obstacles, such as identifying and dealing with the inevitable Imposter Syndrome and discovering the confidence to navigate social and professional spaces. I was also exposed to so many professional and legal fields that all directly contribute to fight for LGBTQ rights. I had no idea that ethical lobbyists existed or that there were specific roles designated in the White House for LGBTQ outreach liaisons. Above all, our weekly meetings provided a space to decompress and reflect on the week, share laughs with my cohort and the Victory staff, and build meaningful personal and professional relationships. 

I entered this internship with no grand expectations as I wanted to be a sponge ready for this seemingly foreign experience. I don’t think I gave myself enough credit for what I would offer to this internship—my background, past experiences, and knowledge would only enhance what was to come. Moving forward, I hope to keep the same attitude of realizing the value in my experiences and who I am as I venture into the post-graduate world, as a professional, and for myself.  In the end, I have learned to never say no to new opportunities and to walk into those new opportunities with full confidence in myself.