Notes from the Field: Hannah Solomon '17

Hannah Solomon interned at the Office of Congresswoman Watson Coleman during the 2016 summer term with support from the Perkins Bass '34 Fund. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

During the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to intern in the office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman who is a first-term congresswoman representing New Jersey’s 12th district. She sits on the Committee on Homeland Security, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Select Committee on Women’s Health, as well as being a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a founding member of the Caucus on Black Women and Girls. The Congresswoman is also deeply involved in the fight for common sense gun legislation and participated in the 26-hour-long sit in on the House floor on June 23rd.

As an intern, I was able to get involved in many of these projects. On a day-to-day basis, I answered phones, sorted mail, gave tours of the Capitol, logged constituent information, researched and wrote constituent letters, and ran errands. However, I also researched and compiled information on federal incarceration systems and legislation, wrote briefs on U.S.-Pakistani relations and U.S.-Cuban relations, listened to speeches given by House members on regular in-session days as well as during the gun legislation sit-in, and attended a range of briefings, hearings, and press conferences.

The policies on which Congresswoman Watson Coleman focused also happened to align with my own interests: women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control, civil rights, prison reform, etc. My preexisting interests in these areas allowed me to immerse myself in policy research almost immediately and served as a gateway to other policy areas connected to the office’s work. It also meant that I was excited to be in and around the Capitol during the gun legislation sit-in as well as during several protests and demonstrations connected to gun control and police brutality. These are issues in which I am deeply interested, so seeing firsthand the way our nation’s leaders responded was an invaluable experience.

Before my internship, I participated in the Rockefeller Center’s Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) during 15S. Possibly my most important take away from that program was the explanation and evaluation of my own Myers-Briggs profile. Taking that test and analyzing what the results meant helped me step back and evaluate my own character and my own tendencies in leadership situations, something with which I often struggle. That process gave me much more perspective and understanding into the way I function in a variety of situations and was specifically helpful as I began to understand my office environment and the way my role as an intern fit into a larger picture.