Notes from the Field: Oliver Engelhart ’18

Oliver Engelhart ’18 interned in the Office of Senator Gillibrand from New York for the 2017 winter term with support from the Perkins Bass '34 Fund. The following is an excerpt from his internship report. ​

This past winter I had the opportunity to intern in the Office of Senator Gillibrand from New York. I took everything I hoped to take away from this experience. I gained an insight into domestic politics, worked on legislative issues I was passionate about, and developed relationships with staffers, alums, and friends in the capitol. While I have primarily focused m studies at Dartmouth on international politics and Asian studies, working as an intern in the Senate was my chance to learn about American politics, and explore a part of the United States I have never been exposed to. The past few months have been a chaotic time in DC, given the inauguration and tension in the capitol, but I definitely think this was the opportune moment to experience the senate in full swing. During my time in the office I attended many of the Presidential Cabinet Nominee hearings, summarized briefings, and worked on research projects for staffers.

In my first week I set out to introduce myself to every person in our office in order to build relationships and work my way into projects I was interested in. Every week I asked staffers for coffee or to “take a lap” (my new favorite thing – a walking meeting around the building). This was by far the most valuable experience, as I was able to have one on one time with individuals who have advice and expertise in fields I’m interested in. Every staffer was incredibly open and would often pull me aside if they had more knowledge to contribute or questions to ask. By doing this I was able to work on projects I otherwise wouldn’t have been invited into, such as research on environmental issues, homeland security, and Asian and Middle Eastern foreign affairs.

Having completed this winter term, I am now looking ahead to refocus on academics and career opportunities. While I still do not know the direction or profession I hope to go into, the senate and previous internships have helped me focus my interests. My time at Dartmouth had been marked from one adventure to the next, and I have been unbelievably fortunate to have the support of professors, classmates, and the college to pursue each and every opportunity as it has been presented.