The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: ALEXANDRA SASSE '20

Alexandra Sasse '20

Alexandra Sasse '20 (pictured second from the right) interning at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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Alexandra Sasse '20 interned at the U.S. Agency for International Development during the 2019 summer term.

This past summer, I interned on the Legislative Affairs team at the U.S. Agency for International Development. I supported Congressional Liaison Officers as they conveyed information between USAID and lawmakers on the Hill. I tracked legislation moving through the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, researched the political positions of lawmakers regarding their support of foreign aid, and communicated summaries of relevant congressional hearings and briefings to the Legislative and Public Affairs office. I also helped fill administrative need by assisting with scheduling, escorting foreign guests into the building, and setting up events. 

One of the most exciting aspects of my internship was helping the Legislative Affairs team prepare USAID witnesses for their testimonies before Congress. During one such hearing, the Assistant Administrator to USAID’s Bureau for Africa in conjunction with a witness from the State Department’s Bureau for African Affairs testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the United States response to the political crisis in Sudan. To prepare for the hearing, the Legislative Affairs team gathered biographies of committee members and drafted difficult questions that might arise from the more passionate members of Congress. In a mock hearing setting, I watched the prospective witness carefully choose language to characterize the Agency’s response to violence and political unrest in Sudan.

Through this experience, I became familiar with the inner workings of a federal agency and the complicated yet crucial forces at work between the legislative and executive branches. I enjoyed taking trips to the Hill to attend hearings and briefings with congressional staffers; it felt as though I were witnessing foreign policy formulation in action. I also gained valuable insights about working within a large bureaucracy and making small but important contributions to a giant aid machine. 

One thing I will take with me into future professional endeavors is how much I loved the office culture. I hope to find a workplace in which people are passionate about the bigger picture of their work and want to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of the world. At USAID, I feel that people believe in the mission of the Agency and see international development as a worthwhile and nonpartisan endeavor.  

While studying Government and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth, I have focused on development and foreign policy with the ultimate goal of attending law school and working in international law. Interning at USAID allowed me to consider these goals in a public policy environment and seriously entertain the idea of working in government. As I approach my senior year at Dartmouth and begin to make post-graduation plans, I will reflect on this internship as I choose classes that will be valuable in the foreign policy field, such as Spanish and quantitative social studies. Nonetheless, I would like to thank the Rockefeller Center for granting me this opportunity.

The Rockefeller Internships Program has funding for Dartmouth undergraduate students to help defray the cost of living expenses associated with a full-time, unpaid, leave-term internships in the fields of public policy, public affairs, and social entrepreneurship.

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