Notes From the Field: Nikhita Hingorani '21

Nikhita Hingorani '21 interned for Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) during the 2018 Summer Term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to intern for Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Representative of the 7th Congressional District of my home state of Alabama, in both her Washington, DC office and Montgomery district office.

At the DC office, I was responsible for the typical intern duties such as assisting congressional staff, performing research, compiling media mentions, answering telephones, and processing mail. I also had the opportunity to attend special events, such as committee hearings, press conferences, legislative briefings, and seminars. However, I wanted my internship to be more meaningful than the standard, so, as a prospective Economics major and finance lawyer, I got into contact with the Legislative Director, Mr. Joon Suh. He is responsible for economic policy in the office. He assigned me projects relating to his regional minimum wage proposal, which aims to mediate between the federal $7.25 minimum wage and radical $15 movement by offering a salary based on average hourly wages and regional cost variations, with readjustments every three years. The proposal will hopefully serve as a more optimal alternative to the federal minimum wage that is simply unable to be a “one-size-fits-all” due to wide cost disparities between cities and states across the country. Some of my assignments included making spreadsheets of current and proposed minimum wages for each metropolitan statistical area in the country, writing one-pagers on the topic, editing op-eds, and gathering the names of economists and academics who could be potential supporters of the proposal.

Congresswoman Sewell also has four district offices in Alabama: Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Selma. I was able to spend some time in the office located in my hometown of Montgomery under the guidance of the district manager and caseworkers. I was able to personally go through cases and call the local branches of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration to check the status of constituents’ applications. I also had the opportunity to listen to constituents’ concerns over the phone and in person and offer my personal advice and guidance. A majority of my time in the district was spent planning and setting up one of the Congresswoman’s biggest events of the year: the annual job fair. The job fair was created to address the unemployment problem in our district; this year, over 100 employers and 1000 jobseekers attended.

This internship has had a profound effect on my future plans. I came into the summer still unsure of what I wanted to pursue, but I left knowing that one day I just wanted to help people as much as the Congresswoman and her staff does. I hope to find my purpose in the world through the realm of law, specifically finance law. Congresswoman Sewell has been one of my role models for the longest time.

I would like to sincerely thank the Rockefeller Center for helping make my dream of working with her come true. I am excited to take what I have learned on the Hill and use it in real life. Change doesn’t have to happen solely in the halls of the Capitol—it can happen anywhere, from back home in Montgomery to college at Dartmouth. As Congresswoman Sewell told her interns time and time again: “Let’s bloom where we’re planted.”

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.