Maša Ocvirk, former intern and core member of the American Space Leipzig team, is currently working as a Congressional intern in Washington D.C.

In the following weeks, Maša will share her experience with us. Follow her journey in the weekly series “From Leipzig to Washington D.C.” every Monday at www.americanspace-leipzig.de


Washington—The City where Politics never Sleeps

As someone who has spent a lot of time reading, talking, and writing about American politics, Washington D.C. seems like a perfect place to be. But I was not prepared for what living and working here actually looks like. The city really is a networking hub. This is not only due to every building you pass being a seat of a governmental institution, NGO or think-tank, but because it offers so much in terms of roundtables, panels, and receptions you might easily get overwhelmed by trying to fit everything into your schedule.

Rayburn House Office Building where Maša works.

The same goes for working at the US Congress. Since mid-September I have had the opportunity to intern at the US House of Representatives as part of the YouthProAktiv’s Transatlantic Leadership Program. The first day was, as it generally is when it comes to new situations, a mixture of excitement, thrill, and confusion. The former because of all the Congresswomen and Congressmen you casually pass by in the hallways, the latter because you need to find your way in this massive complex of interconnected buildings. This is also the first task/advice you get: get lost in the labyrinth of tunnels that take you from House to the Senate side. When you meet someone trying to find their way through the hallways, that’s how you know they are a new intern.

Despite having the position of an intern, however, you do not feel like one. You are immediately integrated into the team of legislative staffers and the daily tasks in the office in order to start working on topics of your interest—in my case Foreign Policy and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. You quickly get the calendar of all the briefings and hearings and start running from one thing to another; at the same time wishing teleportation would be a real thing. In the end, the day passes by so quickly, the coffee you made in the morning is still there on the table but cold.

I knew from the start that this internship was a big step and an amazing opportunity. Since coming to DC, however, I realized how many doors it can open and how much I still need learn about the legislative process and political culture in the US. But more about this next time.

The Capitol Building is the home of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government.