“Governing is a lot harder than people think it is,” says Emily Nance, a member of Faith Baptist Church, Winter Haven, Fla. “I think it’s really easy for people to say, ‘Oh, all you have to do is XYZ, and all of our problems will be solved.” But there’s a lot more that goes into it that I don’t think a lot of people realize. You also have to consider the financial impact of decisions and the countless factors involved in policy development and implementation.”
Emily, a rising senior at the University of Florida, spent several weeks this past spring interning in the office of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).
In January, before her schedule became too busy with schoolwork and projects, Emily began thinking of places she would like to be. She had already spent 11 weeks studying abroad, including a nine-week internship in the press office of the Green Party of England and Wales. “I had never interned in D.C. before, and I thought it would be a lot of fun,” says Emily. She applied to several offices. “Then I decided to apply with Boehner’s office just to try it. I never thought I’d get it, honestly, because it was such a long shot.”
Emily explains, “Anyone can apply for a congressional internship, so even though I’m from Florida, I’m still allowed to apply with John Boehner since he is a congressman—he represents Ohio—but I’m still allowed to apply with him. For Boehner’s office specifically, I had to send in my résumé and my cover letter and then do some writing samples.” After researching Boehner, Emily wrote about why she wanted to intern with him and what she wanted to get out of her internship. She says, “I did a lot of research and learned a lot about him and then decided what I did like about him and what I thought I could learn from his office.”
“They called me on my birthday, at the end of February, for a phone interview,” recalls Emily. “Then at the beginning of March, they called me one night, but I was studying for an exam and didn’t get the call until really late. I had an early class the next day. Two of my really good friends were in that class with me, and I said, ‘Listen, I have to call Boehner’s office to see if I got this internship. You need to stay with me, because I’m either going to be really excited, or I’m going to be really upset.’ So I made them stay with me.” Emily says she was excited, honored, and blessed to be offered the internship.
When asked what she learned during her internship, Emily jokingly answers, “How to make a lot of coffee.” But she also says she learned about governing in general. “It was like real-life C-SPAN for me. So when I go back to my political classes in the fall, I’ll have a different perspective of it just because I’ve lived it. And I kind of know what the ins and outs are. I learned a lot about government.”
Emily says, “I also learned a lot about myself, what I do like and what I don’t like, and maybe where I see myself, because I was exposed to a lot of different jobs and opportunities.”
She says she also learned that it’s important for Americans to be involved in the political process. Part of Emily’s job was to open and read mail that came into Boehner’s office. She liked learning what people were writing about and “why they were so passionate about that issue. It was interesting for me to see politics from the constituent services side, because before, I had seen it from the political policy side, but I really liked seeing it from the constituent services side.”
Emily also gave tours of the Capitol. Among those she guided were her own parents, Jerry and Mary Nance, and Debbie Boehner, the Speaker’s wife.
Emily was impressed by the Boehners. She says Mrs. Boehner is “very nice, very funny.” She found the Speaker to be what he says he is: “a normal guy with a big job.” Emily says, “I think that’s such a great way to summarize him. If you didn’t know he was speaker of the house, he would just come across as the guy next door. They are both great people.”
- Read more about Emily’s internship here.