The internship at the Heritage Foundation has been the highlight of my college experience. In so many ways did this internship exceed my expectations by providing an education in conservatism and in politics, an experience in both policy creation and business administration, and provided classes and information on how to increase our marketability to potential employers. The Heritage Foundation is the premier conservative think-tank in Washington D.C. It was founded in 1977 by a group of Congressional staffers wanting timely, detailed, and relevant conservative information and commentary regarding the legislation moving through Congress. It was an integral part of the Reagan administration and every administration, Republican or Democrat, thereafter.
The Heritage Foundation focuses much of its attention on its interns and puts a substantial amount of resources into its intern program. Heritage believes that the interns of today are the leaders of conservatism tomorrow, and treated us interns so well that on many occasions, I heard Heritage employees say, “I wish I was an intern.” The program, as previously mentioned, has three main focuses; first an education on the intellectual and practical applications of conservative knowledge, second an experience in working in policy and business administration, and third offered classes and opportunities to further build our resumes.
Not only did the Heritage Foundation provide an education in conservatism, it also provided me an education in modern politics. It did so by allowing its experts to speak on the politics or provide us with their own point of view on various issues (i.e. the coming 2010 or ’12 elections.) Whether it was the Director of the Government Relations department, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, or even former Attorney General Ed Meese, the Heritage Foundation’s experts and directors gave us a peek into what politics is and gave us access to the movers and shakers of Heritage’s policy on the highest level. Not only did the Heritage Foundation provide the interns an opportunity to meet these experts, directors, and Vice-Presidents, but allowed us to meet them on a personal level. We were able to have multiple one-on-one conversations with the directors and Vice-Presidents, where they provided career advice, mulled over our resumes, and told personal stories about how they got to their positions. The Heritage Foundation provided and education in conservatism and allowed the interns to meet them leaders of both Heritage and the conservative movement.
I had an internship in the Information Systems and Administration department of the Heritage Foundation, and although that was not a policy specific area of Heritage, it still provided opportunities to work in the various departments that did. For instance, the Heritage Foundation has a blog called, “The Foundry.” They encouraged the interns to write on the blog about relevant topics. To do so, we had to write our blog post, talk to the experts in charge of the topic for revisions, and afterwards it would be published to the blog. As a result, it allows you to work closely with many of the experts. Moreover, I was able to work on the Congressional Briefing Book that Heritage publishes every year. This book is, as the name says, a book containing brief summaries on the various issues that Congress may debate on. Working on this book allowed me to, again, work on the various issues with the staffers and experts in that policy area, whether it was regarding the Global War on Terror or the Health Care Reform. These unique programs and opportunity allowed for me to grow in my knowledge regarding policy.
The Heritage Foundation also provided classes and other opportunities to build the interns’ resumes and build the interns’ confidence in other areas. For instance, the Heritage Foundation realizes how important op-ed writing is to politics and how 700 words can have make a drastic difference in the proper communication of the rationale behind a policy. As a result, the Heritage Foundation picked a dozen interns, brought in the op-ed editor for the McClatchy News Service, and had a weekly op-ed class. I was chosen for this class and had to write on a pre-picked prompt to be evaluated and critiqued by the editor. This class provided me with a lot of information regarding writing, how to write in an entertaining style, and gave me tips on how to sell my op-ed to an editor.
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