Legislative Intern, Office of Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
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Sara Mehretab

Major: Economics
Minor: Political Science and Business and the Liberal Arts
Hometown: Harrisburg, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

In the summer of 2014, I completed an internship at United Concordia, a dental insurance company. During my time there, I expressed interest in pursuing a career in economic policy for the federal government. A staff member in senior management was impressed with my work, and reached out to his contacts in Senator Casey's office to recommended me for their summer legislative internship. Throughout the year, I applied and was interviewed for this position.

"This internship gave me a first-hand look at the legislative process. I was able to follow transportation and housing policy up-close."

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

Throughout my internship I was able to do a wide variety of activities. Different organizations throughout Pennsylvania would contact the office regarding federal funding opportunities for economic development projects. One of my tasks was to search for grants and other funding opportunities for these organizations, and then write a letter of support from the Senator. Throughout the internship I attended 11 hearings and wrote 11 briefing memos for my legislative correspondent. By attending these hearings, I was able to learn about different housing and transportation issues facing the Senate and gain valuable knowledge from the witnesses who were experts in these issues. My final project was a long term research project on the National Housing Trust Fund. I created an Issue Brief that included background information and current legislation before Congress. At the end of the internship I presented a copy to my legislative correspondent.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This internship gave me a first-hand look at the legislative process. I was able to follow transportation and housing policy up-close. By attending hearings, briefings, and meetings I gathered and had access to the same information Senators and their respective staff do when deciding how to vote on bills. Some of the information I learned on the job is not taught in the classroom. For example, there are no classes provided specifically on transportation and housing policy, and these were the issues I spent the most time on. Alternatively though, research I’ve done in class came up during the internship, and I was able to provide insight to those discussions.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I was very idealistic when coming into this internship. My ideas of the role of a senior economic policy advisor were very different than I expected. By participating in this internship, I learned what I should expect as a full-time employee. Through this internship, I was able to gain experience, which is required for many jobs on Capitol Hill. In addition, I made contacts who would be willing to write me recommendation letters in the future. Following policy was something I did enjoy, and can see myself doing in the future. I also enjoyed my previous internship experience in the private sector, so long term I see myself doing government relationship for a private firm.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students who are interested in working on Capitol Hill after they graduate. "Hill experience" is necessary for most jobs on Capitol Hill, so gaining that experience as an intern gives you an advantage once you graduate.

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