One of the biggest components of the Washington Semester Program in D.C. is having an internship in one of the most important cities for lawmaking, politics, advocacy, and journalism. As a senior, this appealed to me a lot as I want as much professional experience as possible before graduating. Due to this, I wasted no time in searching for engaging internships after getting accepted and making my decision to come to D.C. for the fall semester. This paid off and landed me an internship with an organization I have long admired and respected, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest civil rights organizations working towards full LGBTQ+ equality.
Outside of my regular tasks, I have been able to participate in a few special events. The first of these was helping to plan and execute a spring lobby day on Capitol Hill. I got to accompany a group of Californians to meet with their Representatives and Senators to discuss supporting bills like the Equality Act, to add sexual orientation and gender identity to anti-discrimination laws, and the PrEP Access and Coverage bill, to grant federal funding for HIV/AIDS prevention drugs and education. Later that week, I also got to participate in HRC’s annual National Dinner. At the National Dinner I got to hear from speakers like singer, Ricky Martin and NFL player, Ryan Russell. I also got to dance around for a good portion of the night in a butterfly costume to help sell raffle tickets to fundraise for the organization. Finally, I got to attend a rally with HRC outside of the Supreme Court to advocate for the plaintiffs of the current cases being heard to determine if gender identity and sexual orientation are protected classes under the Civil Rights Act.
Interning with the Government Affairs Department has been a valuable experience that has grown my professional abilities, taught me new skills, and helped me to network with employees throughout the organization and other organizations. From mastering different political software to writing professional memos to researching LGBTQ+ rights in various states, this internship has given me a more complete picture of the political process and the practical skills to succeed in this work after I graduate.