“Spending my summer in D.C. was the best decision I could have made,” she said. “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work on Capitol Hill for Congressman Ralph Abraham and experience D.C life. The staff was so welcoming and helpful, and I couldn’t have asked for a better boss! The days were long, but filled with fun and exciting events. I wouldn’t trade this summer for anything!”
For many students, an internship is an opportunity to take the next steps toward a career. For Lewis, it was more much more than that.
“For a lot of students, an internship in D.C. is seen only as a resume builder. You answer the phones and sort the mail and, in the end, get a letter of recommendation with a congressional stamp on it,” she said. “For me, it was more than that. Going to D.C., I didn’t have much insight into politics. I had the perfect classroom to really dig in and experience the everyday problems our nation faces. I’m so thankful that I was given tasks where I did actual policy work. My office gave me every opportunity to learn.”
As a finance major, Lewis knew going in that she may not fit in to the D.C. interns “crowd,” but the lack of a political science background helped her discover more of her passion to become a public servant.
She said, “I didn’t think much of my coursework would transfer over to politics, but one of the legislative assistants worked on financial services issues so I was able to work under him and use some of what I had learned from my business classes. I also took an intro political science class, which was very helpful because we studied a lot of current events. While having a political background is helpful, no specific major is needed when working on the hill. There are such a wide array of issues, so any major can be of help when working on the hill.”
Her efforts to learn and become more involved with the legislative process did not go unnoticed.
“Lauren contributed a great deal to our congressional staff while she served as one of our interns this summer,” said Abraham. “She came to D.C. well prepared to tackle the rigorous pace of the daily schedule. My staff and I were pleased with her work ethic and willingness to learn. I would encourage students at ULM who are interested in an internship with our office to apply next year.”
While Lewis said she learned various skills during her time under Abraham including federal government operations, office skills, and congressional office procedures, she said what she learned about herself was just as valuable.
“I’ve discovered I’m much more of a people person than I ever thought before,” she said. “Answering the phones and talking with the different constituents was one of my favorite tasks because it allowed me to explain how Congressman Abraham is serving them in Washington and to also, get insight on what the people were feeling back at home. I also learned how important making connections can be. I met so many different people who I wanted to stay connected with, so I would take their business cards and be sure to send a follow up email after each event.”
The riches of her internship didn’t end there. On June 25, Lewis and her colleagues made their way to the Supreme Court to witness that day’s activities. What she didn’t expect was to be part of an historic decision.
“My favorite moment was being in the courtroom when the Affordable Care Act ruling was given. I asked my office if I could have the morning off because my roommates and I wanted to test our luck at the Supreme Court. We had no idea what they would rule on that day so we were surprised when they announced the Affordable Care Act. It was the coolest moment to be one of the first to hear the ruling and then being able to walk out of the Supreme Court and see the celebrations going on outside. Being able to say I witnessed history is something not many people can say.”
In the end, Lewis took away more than she bargained for, and learned that her role in society can be as impactful and significant as she desires.
“While I haven’t completely decided on what I plan to do career wise, I do hope to stay involved in politics. This life is so interesting and I feel it is my job as a citizen to stay involved and informed in the decisions that are going on in Washington. I’ve now been in the trenches of public policy, so to completely remove myself from that wouldn’t be right. I’ve gained valuable information and want to continue to learn and stay involved in governmental issues.”
ULM offers students a variety of opportunities for internships through its Office of Career Connections. Staff members assist students with internship placement, career options, resume writing, and job searches.