The olde English proverb goes something like, “All good things must come to an end.” Such is the state of my rapidly expiring tenure at CGS as a government relations research associate. It’s been a heck of a couple months, and I’ll take the experiences I had here with me forever in my professional career. Here are some of my honest reflections.
When I first showed up, I really hadn’t a clue about the inner workings of a non-profit and the space they operate in -- the abyss between the governmental and civil society spheres. To drive home the point of my alienation, it took a few weeks to get used to the layout of the office (it’s a pretty big house). But I like to think I showed up having zero expectations and an open mind, which I always try to keep with me. In this regard I always wanted to be a soft-spoken and humble sponge that showed up at the right times and took in all the right information, learning as much as possible. Just like any new work place, there was a learning curve.
Something I always try to do is observe the standard operating procedures of a workplace, both formal and informal. It took some explaining (my attention span often gets the better of me at times), but now I can confidently say that I understand the ways in which CGS operates, and, most importantly, how it communicates its messages to the masses.
I’ve had previous work with government at the state level in the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so working through government institutions was not something foreign to me. Approaching government from the non-profit angle, however, was refreshing. It was fantastic to work with a political action committee that had a relatable and sincere platform: to support candidates who champion a responsible role for the US in the international realm to solve global problems effectively.
Although not all the CGS-endorsed candidates won their bids, it was exciting to learn about the fresh faces of this country that have bright futures ahead of them, like Shenna Bellows of Maine. It was also a pleasure to see Pete Aguilar win a seat in the House, and I cannot wait to see the work he does over the next two years.
After the election, it was nice to be able to focus on creating a campaign of my own. Though this process was completely alien to me, I enjoyed the tremendous help of the staff here and couldn’t have accomplished anything without their guidance and wisdom. Truthfully, the thing I’ll remember most about my time here is going through the process of choosing members of congress to lobby, narrowing down the candidates, setting up meetings, and talking to their staffers about prospective legislation that CGS supports.
If and when H.R. 3344 (it better be re-introduced) gets passed in the next few years, I will feel that I’ve done a little to steer it in the right direction. In that regard I look forward to seeing the project move forward in the new year with someone else at the helm.
Next semester I will be plying my trade at the Department of State, where I hope to land the career of my dreams. I can only thank CGS for putting up with my shenanigans and teaching me some valuable skills along the way. I tell people that I suffered a bit from a “long-term real world hangover” when I took a year off between my degrees, but now that I have a semester in DC in the bag, I feel like I’m getting back to my proverbial fighting weight. A big thank you to CGS for preparing me to take on the challenges that await me.