AUBURN, Ala. —As a native of Great Falls, Virginia, Lyndsee Leach is no stranger to the Washington, D.C., area. In fact, working on Capitol Hill has been a long-time dream for this Auburn University senior in agricultural communications. This summer, she acted on that dream, spending eight weeks as an intern in Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt’s office on the Hill. She hopes the internship is not the end of her days in D.C., but just the beginning.
COA: What extracurricular activities are you involved in at Auburn?
LL: I’m a member of Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, Block and Bridle and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, and I’ve written for The Auburn Plainsman.
COA: What are your career goals, or what do you plan to do after you finish your bachelor’s degree?
LL: I would like to work on Capitol Hill for a few years and then work for a public relations firm whose focus is agriculture.
COA: How did you find the internship?
LL: I researched it online. Also, Auburn on the Hill has some excellent information about congressional internships. They have an impressive program. I have always been interested in politics and working on the Hill, so this was a great way to get my foot in the door.
COA: Describe the application and selection process.
LL: I applied through Congressman Aderholt’s website. Every congressman should have a link on their website for those interested in interning, if they have an internship program. I didn’t find out about the Auburn on The Hill program until I had already applied on Congressman Aderholt’s website, but they have links to the Alabama representatives’ and senators’ websites on the Auburn on the Hill website.
COA: Does your major require that you complete an internship?
LL: Yes, it requires that students complete at least 280 hours of internship work.
COA: What does a typical day in this internship entail?
LL: Every day is different, and not every congressional office does the same things with their interns. In Congressman Aderholt’s office, the staff were wonderful and allowed me to learn many different things. Even though I may have run a few errands, they treated every intern the same way they treat staff, which made the internship a comfortable learning environment. Some days I might be sorting mail, faxes and newspapers, and other days I would give extensive tours to constituents. I updated emergency contact info and call lists for the congressman, talked with constituents on the phone, wrote letters to constituents and sat in on hearings.
COA: What was the most important lesson you’ve learned through this position so far?
LL: I learned so many valuable lessons while working in Congressman Aderholt’s office. Most importantly, I have improved my communication skills. I was able to learn from highly professional staff members about how to speak to constituents on tours, when they walked into office and called on the phone. Those staff members also taught me how to network and opened so many doors for me to meet people who have careers in fields that I am interested in. For example, if someone walked in the door who had a similar career or interest to me, other staff members would make sure I got the person’s business card and was able to speak with them. I am so thankful for their generosity.
COA: Tell us about the most fun or unexpected experience you’ve had so far.
LL: I was able to tour the FBI headquarters in D.C., which was I was not expecting to do and was such an amazing experience. I loved getting to know more about the different facets of the FBI and its history.