Kevin Costello ’16: Interning with congressman on Capitol Hill

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Editor’s note: In this series, Colgate students share stories about their summer experiences in offices, labs, and open spaces across America.

While I’m only in the third week of my internship with Congressman Richard Hanna, Capitol Hill has been incredibly exciting for me so far.

In my first week, the House debated and voted on two pieces of legislation that would grant President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a trade partnership with other countries, and our office was flooded with phone calls and letters from constituents voicing their opinions.

I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the House vote on these two bills from the gallery and hear the eruption of excitement from the floor once the 218th “Yea” vote was cast.

I knew I wanted to spend the summer in D.C. after an incredible spring semester on Colgate’s Washington, D.C., Study Group. I’ve always been something of a political head, but it wasn’t until last semester, being immersed in the hustle and bustle of American political life, that I really caught the bug.

My primary issue of interest is the intersection between policy and small business, so I was ecstatic when I received an offer to intern with Congressman Hanna, an entrepreneur who sits on the House Small Business Committee and specializes in issues relating to small businesses.

I’ve learned a lot about specific issues and the policy process as a whole from an office full of smart and friendly staffers, including a Class of 2014 Colgate alumnus. I’ve also attended a series of lectures and hearings, including a Small Business Committee mark-up of a bill that would extend certain benefits to veterans trying to start their own businesses.

My eventual goal is to attend law school and then work with entrepreneurs in establishing and growing their businesses. This internship opportunity is applicable in more ways than one. I’m gaining additional knowledge of the specific challenges that today’s innovators face, as well as the ways in which current and future policy may assist them in pursuing their business goals. I’m learning about communicating and working with different kinds of people to solve problems. I’ve already gained a whole host of new administrative skills that should benefit me in any work environment. This list of important takeaways is sure to grow as I get further into my internship.