"Maybe it's telling that my favorite part of my internship was researching and writing my term paper."
I worked at the Washington State House of Representatives during the 2016 legislative session as an intern for Representatives Appleton and Moscoso. This experience simultaneously showed me the value of getting outside the ivory tower of academia and made me realize that I truly am an academic - I made connections with incredible people at the capitol who encouraged me to work there after graduation, but I was intuitively drawn more to studying the legislature than working within it. Maybe it's telling that my favorite part of my internship was researching and writing my term paper. After two months of "seeing how the sausage gets made," as so many legislators and lobbyists put it to me, all I wanted to do was dig deeper into understanding how the way political institutions function affects the citizens those institutions serve. Now, I'm pursuing a PhD in American Politics with the hope that contributing to the scholarly understanding of political sausage-making will be my bread and butter. My time as an intern was an invaluable chance to hone and motivate my scholarly work - I left Olympia at the end of the session loaded with research questions generated from the work I'd done and what I'd seen. As the person at the front lines of responding to constituent communications for my representatives, I became deeply interested in the factors that influence citizens' access to elected officials and officials' responsiveness to their concerns. I also developed a deeper understanding of the political constraints on policymaking, a pragmatic perspective that I hope to use to make my scholarly work more useful in the real world. The term paper I wrote for UW credit for the internship, below, provides one example of this perspective.