Notes from the Field: Yoga Acharya '19

Yoga Acharya '19 interned with Senator Casey's Foreign Policy and National Security Team during the 2016 summer term with support from the Peter McSpadden Public Affairs Fund. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

I interned with Senator Casey’s Foreign Policy and National Security Team on Capitol Hill for the summer of 2016. During my internship, I attended hearings led by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Armed Services Committee briefing senior legislative officers on violent extremism and global efforts to combat the Islamic State. Additionally, I drafted the Senator’s weekly Foreign Policy and National Security briefing. I focused on international events and developments impacting American interests overseas, and legislation status in the House and Senate to address those challenges. Furthermore, I wrote three co-sponsorship memos regarding legislation on the Senate floor including the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Act, the Vulnerable Children and Families Act, and a resolution on protecting women’s rights abroad. I also worked on three issue brief drafts for the Senator on India, cybersecurity, and the South China Sea. All three briefs are critical to Pennsylvania and American security more broadly. 

As an Army ROTC Cadet intending to commission as an officer upon graduation, I came into Senator Casey’s office with one goal: to learn. Coming into the internship, I expected my tasks to be heavy on the administrative side. However, starting on day one, I was given substantive work, like analyzing the National Defense Authorization Act’s amendments, and researching key policy decision-makers for medical standards in the Armed Forces. The chance to work alongside senior foreign policy and national security advisors to the Senator and help them make consequential decisions was incredible.

Working in the real world is very different than the academic sphere. There are definitely elements from what I learned at the Senate that will influence my coursework. Having a deep knowledge base is an incredible asset. Building an understanding of how the hierarchies and bureaucracies in Washington work is best learned on the job, but bringing subject-matter expertise with a versatile personality is a key to succeeding on the Hill. I participated in the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program. RGLP gave me the tools to succeed when interacting with foreign officials, and I value the lessons I learned in the program surrounding diversity.

I am sincerely grateful to Dartmouth College, the Rockefeller Center, Mr. Peter McSpadden ‘52 and the McSpadden Public Affairs Fund for making my internship at the United States Senate possible. My time in Washington helped shape my academic and professional goals both at Dartmouth and afterwards.