Students interning in the federal government this summer have mixed feelings about the current political climate. Some say they’re uneasy about working under the Trump administration, while others are relatively unaffected by the presidential transition.
College sophomore Sarah Lentz received an internship offer to work with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) just before Election Day. Now, she said she is feeling apprehensive about working in Washington, D.C.
“The total environment of D.C. has changed, and I applied assuming [Hillary Clinton] would win and assuming I would work in a Democratic administration,” Lentz said. “So initially it was really shocking and weird to think about.”
Still, Lentz said she is eager to learn about government from an insider’s perspective.
“The rampant partisanship is something that’s just so horrible and destructive,” she said. “But I do think that it’s interesting — maybe in a bad way — to be in that environment.”
College sophomore Eric Rauschkolb will be working in the Office of the Chief Information Officer in the Department of the Treasury — an internship he said is “unaffected by politics.”
“It’s just the internal logistics of the Treasury,” Rauschkolb said of his position. “I’m not doing anything policy-related or things that would be potentially impacted by my views,” he explained.
For other students, the November 2016 elections determined what kinds of internships would be available.
College junior Ashton Pollard couldn’t apply for her position in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform until mid-winter — after elections determined which parties would have majorities in the House and the Senate.
“Obviously you can’t pick who’s working for you in September if you don’t know who is going to be in Congress or if you don’t know who the president is going to be,” said Pollard, who will be working for the Republican House Majority staff.
Pollard said she is excited about working under a Republican administration, but that the results of the election were not a “game-changer” either way.
“Had Hillary [Clinton] won, I still would have wanted to work for the House committee,” she said.
Another College junior, who wished to remain anonymous due to ongoing background checks required for the security clearance she needs for her position, said she was initially worried about the effects of the Trump administration’s hiring freeze on her summer position at the Central Intelligence Agency.
“It turns out that doesn’t apply to national security,” she said. “I called [the CIA] and specifically asked about that, and they said it’s ‘business as usual.’”
Even though Trump’s presidency did not change the logistics of her job prospects, she expressed concern about working in government under an administration whose policies do not align with her personal views.
“I’m just wondering what types of tasks [Trump is] going to be assigning — and what kinds of operations the CIA is going to be taking out — and I definitely don’t want to facilitate anything that I think is not fair or appropriate,” she said.
“But I’m also just going to be an intern,” she added. “I’m not going to be making any national security decisions, but it is something that I thought about after [Trump] won.”