January 12, 2017
Cullen Murphy interns in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Politics students get practical experience through internships

For sophomore Cullen Murphy, commuting to his fall internship on Capitol Hill took a mere 10 minutes. He got on the Metrorail at the Brookland-Catholic University station, went three stops, and arrived at Union Station, which opens up to views of the U.S. Capitol building.

Murphy made this trip a few days a week while interning for U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert of California.

“Being an intern [in Congress], you have such a wide range of responsibilities: answering phone calls from constituents, giving tours of the Capitol, attending briefings, writing memos for legislative assistants. Your job changes on a daily basis. That’s what is so exciting about it,” he says.

For politics students, Catholic University’s location in the nation’s capital provides many opportunities to amplify what they learn in the classroom through internships. Students get hands-on experience at places like Congress, the White House, and federal departments and agencies.

Junior Nicole Reinhardt spent 13 months between 2015 and 2016 working in the Office of Digital Initiatives for the Global Markets Division of the International Trade Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. As an intern, she got to witness firsthand the division’s liaison work at the embassies throughout the city.

Going to school and working in the political capital of the United States makes “you feel like you’re part of the energy,” says Reinhardt, who spent the fall semester interning for U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania. “You’re in the place you need to be for politics and government. You get to meet tons of people. Once you have those connections, you have them for life.”

Senior Bridget Visconti has had several internships in her time at Catholic University. She’s worked at the Australian Embassy, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican National Committee, and the European Union during her time studying abroad in Belgium.

Bridget Visconti at the Republican National Convention.

Visconti’s internship at the Republican National Committee headquarters in D.C. led to an opportunity over the summer to work at the Republican National Convention in her hometown of Cleveland.

She worked for the media operations department, which assisted the approximately 15,000 members of the media who covered the convention. The hours were long but she loved the experience and took away some marketable job skills.

“I’ve become detail oriented. The little things can cause the biggest problems,” she says. “I learned a lot about time management. And communication was so crucial this summer and [what I learned] will make me more marketable in the future.”

Murphy, Reinhardt, and Visconti agree that the Department of Politics makes it easy to find internships. The department and faculty alert students to opportunities and the University’s Office of Career Services provides additional resources for networking.

“Catholic University does everything they can to help you get the internship, get the experience, get into D.C. life. They will do everything they can to help you,” Reinhardt says.

Visconti says that Catholic University gives her “all the opportunities that I need to leave college with a job. It was absolutely the right choice for me.”