The ANU Washington DC internship

Hero and the undeground tram beneath the US Capitol
17 January 2018
Hero Cook, pictured at the White House, is spending an unforgettable winter as an intern in the US Congress

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Picture this.

It’s a crisp winter morning; snow gently drifts from the heavens in flurries. You emerge from your brownstone townhouse clothed head to toe in your warmest gear, feeling almost as fluffy as the snow around you. You carefully shut the bright yellow door, stark against the grey morning, and hurry down the steps to work.

Walking along the busy street, sticking to the right (even though every fibre of your body wants to drift left), you pass people with briefcases and coffees in hand. You briskly pass grand marble buildings adorned with pillars and statues. As the wind begins to bite through your coat, you duck down into an underground tunnel.

Through the security scanner, down the stairs, show your pass to the guard, and suddenly you’re rattling along on an underground tram system. Underneath the corridors of power you speed until jolting to a halt at the end of the line.

Down the corridor, up the stairs, through the doorway, past security, up the stairs, hang a left, and finally enter through the glass double doors of the office.

Take off the layers of clothes (don’t lose those pesky gloves), change your hiking boots out for stylish (but most certainly comfortable) shoes, and you’re ready for action. Helping constituents, traversing the halls for Congress-members’ signatures, sorting newspapers, attending staff meetings, finding that absolutely necessary coffee, sitting in on hearings and constantly having the TV on (if only to giggle at bad puns on Senators’ Twitter), fills your day.

You talk sport with the staff assistants, foreign policy with the legislative team, and complain about the Metro with your fellow interns. When someone asks you about your stay so far you rattle off your adventures – the National Air and Space Museum, the Hirschhorn Gallery, a funky underground bookstore, the Holocaust Museum and generally walking the wrong way to work.

As night falls, you readorn yourself in winter-wear and stride out into the darkness. Navigating your way into town you find yourself perched on the edge of your seat, surrounded by a sea of red, cheering your lungs out for the Capitals, Washington’s NHL ice hockey team. Once the home players have clenched a solid victory, you make your way back to the apartment. Stepping inside, you debrief with your roommate (animated talking and grand gestures included), before collapsing into bed, ready to begin it all again tomorrow.

This is what an internship on Capitol Hill in Washington DC feels like. It isn’t all glamour. It’s certainly a lot of running around, and exhaustion, and sometimes slow hours. But it’s an experience I will never forget.

It’s an experience I’d recommend that every single ANU student applies for. Whether it’s the Americans you meet, the attractions you visit, the work you do, or the friendships you form with your fellow interns, it’s a freezing cold adventure not to be missed.

Follow Hero's adventures on Instagram: @heroemily

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Updated:  17 January 2018/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications