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

Notes from the Field: Bethany Malzman '19

Bethany Malzman '19 with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23).

Bethany Malzman '19 and fellow interns with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) in front of Capitol Hill.

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Bethany Malzman ’19 interned in the Washington, DC office of Representative Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) during the 2016 Summer Term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

During the 2016 summer term, I had the opportunity to serve as one of three student legislative interns in the Washington D.C. office of Rep. Wasserman Schultz of Florida’s 23rd district. This office primarily manages legislation in Congress that relate to various committees the congresswoman holds positions in, such as the House Appropriations Committee, and bills that members propose and vote on during each congressional session.

The legislative staffers would assign me specific projects analyzing, researching, and summarizing legislation pertaining to a variety of issues. During this process, I came to understand why her office considers certain issues a priority. For instance, one of my projects was to research the science behind an upcoming breast cancer study for young women of color. Through the feedback from the staff, I understood why this issue was significant to the congresswoman (she is a breast cancer survivor and sponsored the EARLY Act) and her values as Democrat (equal access to cancer screening treatment).

I also served as a direct line of communication between the constituents of my home district and the congresswoman’s office. By drafting correspondence in response to constituent concerns regarding current events and legislative initiatives, I grew in both my writing skills and understanding of the process through which federal legislators listen to problems and take the next step towards change.

I also found the connections I made with the congresswoman and her staff as one of the most essential elements of my internship. Rep. Wasserman Schultz took the time to have lunch with me one day during the summer, which allowed me to hear in a more casual setting how she became involved in the political sphere (starting with grassroots campaigning) and the Democratic party. I was able to ask questions and for hear her advice on how I can best start a career in public service. This experience stands out to me because it continued to shape how I viewed the remainder of my internship, keeping the goal of serving the public always in the back of mind. I also had the opportuntiy to get to know each of the legislative staffers, learning about their journey to the Hill and how and why they are in their positions today. 

Overall, this internship experience gave me a newfound perspective on public policy. Capitol Hill is a dynamic atmosphere, with no two days the same. I also better understand myself both as a leader and collaborator. Whether I was working on a joint assignment with another intern or creating my own project, such as researching then writing one-pagers on bills to submit to the appropriate staffer, I realized that a leader must be resourceful and open-minded to new ideas. 

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