Pete Johnson ’17 is a political science major with a minor in German. He recently landed an internship at Senator Mark Warner’s office here in Roanoke. He heard about the internship through Evelyn Clark, who interned with him in the past in his D.C. office. She mentioned that Pete should think about doing an internship there because of his interest in working on the Hill and in other legislative positions, mostly focusing on domestic policy. Even though he heard about the internship after the application deadline, he still called the office and asked if he could still submit an application. They said yes, and, shortly after Pete submitted his application, they called and asked him for an interview. He was hired on the spot. “It was a surprisingly relaxed process,” Pete said.
Since the first week of the semester, Pete has been working at his internship twice a week from 9am to 5pm while also taking four classes, being involved in his fraternity, and participating in other campus activities. Pete’s duties at the office include assisting in regional casework (assisting staff in directing constituents through the bureaucracy), event planning, and researching various subjects. At a Senate District Office, outreach and regional casework are the two main focuses. However, on the Hill, policy and legislation are the most significant activities. Pete said that, although his work can sometimes be challenging, he has learned how to be patient with people. In many cases, constituents call the Senator’s office as a last resort, which means that they have already gone through all other lines of communication and have exhausted their options. Therefore, Pete has improved his professional and interpersonal skills tremendously.
Next semester, Pete is participating in the Washington Semester with the hopes of continuing to intern for Senator Warner on the Hill. He would like to keep interning with him because he believes in him. As an aspiring political scientist, he holds political leaders to very high standards because he studies how policy affects people. He says that Senator Warner is a bipartisan member of the Senate and a person who works hard to make sure that as many people as possible are heard in the decision-making process. Pete, who personally collects opinion calls in the office, knows that the Senator pays careful attention to what people have to say and that he makes every effort to have people’s voices heard. In addition, Senator Warner is a strong advocate of LGBTQ community, which is something that Pete also plans to work in, specifically LGBTQ advocacy and outreach. During his semester in Washington, Pete hopes to learn more about the legislative process. He is interested in this subject but has not had much first-hand experience with it. He anticipates that it will be challenging but he knows he will rise to the challenge.
In the spring of 2016, Pete plans to study abroad in Bamberg, Germany. The reasoning behind this decision is his fascination with the German language and culture. “If I didn’t study abroad in Germany, I feel as though I would be cheated out of a proper German education,” he said. Presently, his German language skills are intermediate, but he wants to become fluent by the time he returns from Germany. When Pete graduates Roanoke College, he intends to go to Law School. One day, he hopes to run for political office; therefore, he views a Law School education as vital to being a legislator. “If you want to make the law, you have to understand it first,” he said.