My Incredible Summer on Capitol Hill

By: Marisa Vavruska

August 16, 2013, Washington, D.C. – The PAAIA Capitol Hill Internship Program is not just for congressional internships: this past summer, I worked in the private sector as a federal advocacy intern at the government relations firm, LNE Group. In sharing my own summer experience–a summer at the nexus of the public and private sectors–I hope that I can illuminate some of the many offerings of D.C. politics and that I can encourage other Iranian Americans to apply for CHIP internships.

Working side by side with associates of the LNE Group federal advocacy team, I gained new insight into both the congressional world and business world.  LNE Group is an Ohio-based government relations firm that maintains an office on Capitol Hill, as well as offices in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Berlin, Germany. Though my work in DC focused primarily on federal activity, I witnessed advocacy on both the state and federal level, for I actively liaised between associates in Cleveland and DC. 

My responsibilities encompassed many genres of government relations and required a high level of adaptability; however, on a daily basis, I most often found myself immersed in legislative research. Over the course of my internship, I identified, researched, and tracked legislation relevant to the business strategies of our clients.  As part of this duty, I regularly attended and reported on Congressional hearings on a variety of topics, from small business to chemical regulation. From this task, I learned the importance of efficiency and efficacy in the transfer and application of new policy information from the federal government to corporations. Through such Through such responsibility, I exercised and improved not only my research skills, but my ability to write precise and concise briefs as well. More importantly, I was able to observe the legislative process and the transition from policy to law first-hand.

Beyond the scope of the legislative process, I learned how to identify and obtain government funding opportunities applicable to our clientele–opportunities aimed to further business development. In this undertaking, I engaged with the government grant application and process, discovered the different types of government financial opportunities, and witnessed the rigorous and competitive process that a company must undergo to obtain such funding. This research allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the way that funds are appropriated to various agencies, and subsequently, how such agencies choose to allocate that discretionary funding.  Equally as important, I have gained insight into the importance of long-term business strategy and the ways in which the government can assist and promote its small businesses and corporations.  

I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to experience not only American politics, but also American business. More importantly, I was able to do so through the unique lens of an Iranian American and with the support of the D.C. Iranian American community.  It is hard to express how much I appreciate the immense support of PAAIA, the Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP), and Dr. Akbar Ghahary; all have proved indispensable in this tremendous learning experience and valuable career opportunity. I am very grateful for this unforgettable summer and this invaluable opportunity.  

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