This last summer, I took the risk of a lifetime when I accepted an internship with Senator Jerry Moran’s office in Washington, D.C. When I had originally applied for the program I had marked that I was interested in staying in Kansas because I thought it would give me a better shot at getting in. At first, they were interested in letting me do so. If I had stayed in Kansas, I would have been a legislative intern. However, one day in early April, I got an unexpected phone call from Washington, D.C. The Director of Communications for Senator Moran wanted me to move out to D.C. and be their official press intern. Despite being terrified of living in the big city, not knowing anyone or my way around I accepted the opportunity of a lifetime.
Among my daily duties was scouring the Internet for articles that mentioned the Senator. I learned how to utilize RSS feeds, complete a task quickly and efficiently and have a report be consistent. I would also follow the Senator and his press secretary to meetings with Kansans, photograph the meetings and draft social media posts about them. I would also coordinate on the fly the meetings and photo ops that were altered by weather. This helped me develop quick problem solving skills and memorize the quickest routes through the Capitol and Senate buildings.
Toward the end of the day I would receive PDFs of clips from local Kansas newspapers about the Senator or of stories that the Senator might be interested in. I actually found out that my local bank in my hometown had changed names because of these daily PDFs. I would compile them, send them to staff along with a daily Kansas commodity report, and place the set of papers on the Senator’s desk. The Senator would then read this every night to make sure he was up to date on Kansas items. Some days I would have to gently remind the state offices to send me the clips which taught me how to “nag” in a professional manner that didn’t step on anyone’s toes. I would also write Media Advisories about Senator Moran’s future visits and make follow up calls with the media outlets we sent them to. Before, I didn’t know what a media advisory was, but I have carried on the practice into several campaigns I have been involved with since (for example Hunger Aid 2013 and the Alpha Zeta Fall Speaker).
Weekly duties included assembling the list of every Kansan who passed through the office, their hometown and the nature of the visit. This information would then be shared in Senator Moran’s weekly newsletter, Kansas Common Sense. I would also give one or two capital tours every week. Sometimes when you walk through the Capitol building, you’ll see nervous looking interns giving tours out of an official tour book. These are not Senator Moran’s interns. We have a special “how to give tours” tour both with an official Congressional tour guide and with our staffers. We have a week to memorize where to go, what to say, commonly asked questions, etc. After that, we give the tour to Kansans who request it by memory. We take this very seriously, and I view it almost like being a cast member at Disney. This may be a person’s only time at the Capitol, so take it seriously and go above and beyond. I actually snuck a tour group out onto the Speaker of the House’s private balcony once. I’m pretty sure this makes me a felon, but what the Capitol Police doesn’t know about me won’t hurt them.
Summer long duties included assembling an archive of national level clips about the Senator (for example, out of The New York Times, POLITICO,, etc.). I also updated the Kansas Press List, which was me calling every media office in Kansas to make sure our records were correct. Most of the time, they were not. I was terrified of making cold calls before this internship. Now, I definitely am not.
Sporadic duties included drafting social media posts not regarding visits, writing press releases, going to official meetings with the Senator, writing an Op-Ed for the Senator, interacting with youth organizations, and other items that would pop up throughout the day. I also got to see the Farm Bill get passed through the Senate in the actual chambers as it was happening. It would have been much cooler if it actually passed through the entire congress, though.
I learned so much because of this internship. It was always my dream to work in D.C., and I accomplished it before I was even 21 years old. I also figured out that politics probably isn’t what I want to be in for the rest of my life. It was fun, but a little too frustrating and fast paced for my taste. I do know for certain that Kansas is very lucky to have both Senator Moran and Senator Roberts representing us. Both are gentlemen who genuinely care about Kansans. Even though graduation is looming and I still don’t have a “life plan”, I do know that I would like to stay in the Mid-West, and the internship was definitely the deciding factor in that. The east coast is a nice place to visit, not to live for me.